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NC boating accidents cause injuries, at least one death over Memorial Day weekend

NC officials, family of victim campaign for bill that would stiffen the penalties for impaired boat drivers who kill someone

Kenny Marshall, whose 17-year-old daughter Sheyenne was killed in a 2015 boating accident on Lake Norman during the Fourth of July holidays. Investigators later learned the boater was impaired.
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Kenny Marshall, whose 17-year-old daughter Sheyenne was killed in a 2015 boating accident on Lake Norman during the Fourth of July holidays. Investigators later learned the boater was impaired.

Law enforcement officials are warning people to be safe on the water after a series of boating and water-related incidents across the state left some injured and at least one man dead.

A man drowned during a boating accident on Holt Lake between Smithfield and Four Oaks on Friday afternoon, according to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

The accident occurred about 3:15 p.m. at the spillway of the dam on Black Creek that creates the lake, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Tammy Aamon. Four friends in two separate boats were fishing when one of the boats became stuck on the concrete spillway and the other boat came to help.

During the effort to free the boat, one of the men became caught up in the current and drowned, Aamon said. The sheriff’s office is withholding his name while it works to notify his family members.

On Saturday, two kayakers were rescued from the Neuse River near the 9000 block of Fonville Road in Wake Forest, according to WNCN. A man and a woman were stranded on an island near the dam surrounded by rushing water. It took more than an hour to rescue them but neither were injured.

Later on Saturday, a person was pulled from the Cape Fear River close to the boat ramp at Cape Fear River Park near the bridge over the river near Erwin, according to WNCN. More than a dozen people were on floats or rafts in the river, but one person had to be rescued after they got caught under trees along the river. The person who was rescued was treated for minor injuries.

Also on Saturday, a water rescue was held after two boats collided on Falls Lake, though no one was injured, according to ABC 11.

National Safe Boating Week, promoting boating safety and the use of life jackets, runs through Friday, and the Memorial Day holiday weekend traditionally kicks off summer boating season.

But if you’re planning to drive a boat this summer, you may need a safe-boating course.

State law requires anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, to complete a safety course before operating a vessel powered by a 10-horsepower or greater motor, according to an N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission release.

Boaters can take the auxiliary’s About Boating Safely course 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 3 at the Falls Lake office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 11405 Falls of Neuse Road, Wake Forest. The cost is $35. To register to attend, call McElroy at 919-614-6192.

Find more classes at www.cgaux.org.

Find wildlife commission classes at www.ncwildlife.org/boating.

Drew Jackson and Teri Boggess contributed to this report.

Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett

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