First Lake Norman arrest under law named after teen killed by drunk boater

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LAKE NORMAN, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) A grieving family spoke exclusively to FOX 46 Friday, trying to help prevent another tragedy on the lake this weekend.

It’s been five years since Sheyenne Marshall was killed by a drunk boater. Now, for the first time on Lake Norman, a person has been charged under a law named in her honor.

“Knowing that her name is out there possibly saving other people’s lives I can only imagine how happy she is right now,” Sheyenne’s mother, Leta Marshall said.

They say Sheyenne, who was just 17 when she was killed, was always helping others. Her mom and dad say with this law, she still is.

“I know Sheyenne would be the leader of the pack, if it was for somebody else,” her father Kenny said.

Sheyenne was killed on Lake Norman five years ago by a convicted drunk boater who got no jail time. Her family pushed lawmakers to pass Sheyenne’s Law, making drunk boating a felony in cases where someone is killed or badly injured.

Just this week, for the first time on Lake Norman since the law has been in effect, a man was charged with two felony counts under Sheyenne’s Law, according to wildlife officers.

“For us it’s kind of bittersweet, you don’t want to see anybody hurt or any kind of fatality on the lake when the law was passed we really hoped that it would never have to be used,” Kenny said.

In the recent Lake Norman case, officers say 60-year-old James Neal Watts was drunk and operating a boat that crashed into another boat. One passenger was knocked unconscious and another passenger’s tooth was knocked out…according to authorities.

Kenny and Leta don’t want another family to have to have to suffer. They hope everyone will remember Sheyenne when they’re out on the water this summer.

“Just be responsible so that like Kenny said we never get that call that somebody has taken your daughter’s life,” Leta said.

The Marshalls want mandatory prison time under Sheyenne’s law. FOX 46 found out Friday evening the man charged in the recent case on Lake Norman is already out of jail.

House Bill 66 has passed the house in North Carolina, but not through the Senate and lawmakers only have a few weeks left to pass the bill.

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