Marina safety bill proposed in name of electrocuted boys

(WBIR - Morristown) Newly proposed legislation calls for improved electrical equipment at marinas in the name of two young boys killed while swimming at Cherokee Lake.

The "Noah Dean and Nate" bill refers to 10-year-old Noah Dean Winstead and 11-year-old Nate Lynam, two best friends electrocuted while swimming together at a marina in Cherokee Lake on July 4, 2012.

Family members say the two boys were inseparable. "Noah and Nate" or "Nate and Noah" was like a slogan synonymous with the two vibrant friends who fit together better than a couple of LEGOs.

""Noah and Nate loved LEGOs," said Jessica Winstead, Noah's mother. "They hung out a lot. They went to church together. They went to school together. They lived together and they died together. It just seemed appropriate that they be buried beside each other. Their headstones are in the shape of LEGOs."

Today the phrase "Noah and Nate" elicits thoughts of a tragic afternoon as an electrical current fatally flowed through the children and injured anyone who attempted to dive in and rescue the boys. Winstead would like to give the names of her son and his best friend new meaning.

"I've pictured it in my mind where inspectors go to marinas and say they're checking on the 'Noah Dean and Nate' law to make sure everything is up to code. I imagine workers at marinas saying they need to make sure the 'Noah Dean and Nate' requirements are in order," said Winstead.

The proposal specifically calls for ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) to be installed at each boat slip in a public marina. The GFCI acts as a breaker that kills the main power source when too much electricity is detected in the water.

"We want marinas to be safer. We want marinas to install GFCIs," said Winstead. "Those GFCIs, if too much electricity gets out, the electricity will be shut off. We also want better no swimming signage at certain yardage."

Winstead said for months after Noah's death, she attempted to avoid the details of his death. However, those details eventually came knocking.

"A lady from Missouri showed up at my door one night," said Winstead. "Two of her children, her oldest and her youngest, were electrocuted from the same type of electrical problem when they were swimming near their boat slip on the same day Noah and Nate were killed. Their accident happened at around noon and our happened around 2:00 p.m. on the Fourth of July. I was not there when Nate and Noah died, but she saw it. She told me about what she thought her kids went through. I knew that she was suffering like I was suffering."

Now the mothers embark on a legislative mission to require equipment at marinas to spare others a similar pain. Winstead hopes the legislation can even save the life of another child in the name of "Noah Dean and Nate."


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