MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — It's a tragedy Jessica Winstead McClure has had to retell time and time again, all in hopes that her son's story can help save others.
"I love to talk about Noah," she said. "He is very much a part of my life still."
Her son, 10-year-old Noah Dean Winstead, and his best friend, 11-year-old Nate Lynam, were electrocuted while swimming at a marina 10 years ago.
"They were at Cherokee Lake on German Creek Marina that day," McClure recalled. "They were swimming and there was too much electricity being leaked from the boat."
Noah and Nate were both killed from electric shocks in the water.
The two boys died on July 4, 2012. What began as a typical Independence Day celebration turned into their families' worst nightmare.
"Noah took the brunt of the shock, so he died pretty much immediately," McClure said.
Since then, McClure has worked tirelessly to make people aware of the dangers of Electronic Shock Drowning (ESD).
"About a year and a half after Noah died, my husband and I started realizing that there could be a change," she said.
They began pushing for that change through the state legislature.
Six months later, former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law the Noah Dean and Nate Act, requiring, in part, safety signage and state inspections at public marinas.
As we head into Memorial Day weekend and what is expected to be a busy boating season, McClure wants to spread the word about ESD.
"It's hard for people who aren't familiar with these stories to understand that electrocution in the water in the lake in freshwater is a very real thing," she said.
The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) has several tips for avoiding ESD:
- Never swim within 100 yards of a marina or boatyard
- If signs prohibiting swimming are not posted at a marina, contact the SFMO to file a complaint
- If you have a boat, have it tested annually to see if it is leaking electricity
For more information on ESD, click here.