Crack down on drunk driving and boating gets underway

Montana Marshall Poe speaks to the media at the launch of the"On the Road

RALEIGH — Montana Marshall Poe never thought she’d kick off Memorial Day weekend 2017 standing in front of news cameras at Falls Lake in Wake County. But after her sister Sheyenne Marshall, 17, was killed by an impaired boater two years ago, she made a commitment to make sure no one ever forgot.”She was an all-around good person, she was a Christian, she was going to go to college to become a nurse,” said Marshall Poe. “She was a wonderful person with big, big dreams ahead of her. Unfortunately that got taken away from her too soon.”Sheyenne was kneeboarding during a family party on Lake Norman July 4th weekend 2015 when she was struck from behind by an impaired boater and killed.”Our family was shocked to find out that there were no real consequences for something like that,” said Marshall Poe. “You would think that it would be the same as for drunk driving in a car. … Once we got through our initial shock and grieving, we decided we would fight for penalties so this would not happen to other families in the future.”On Thursday, Montana stood with leadership from the N.C. Highway Patrol and the Wildlife Resources Commission and told her family’s story. The two agencies teamed up to share it and crack down on drunk driving and drunk boating over Memorial Day weekend. A campaign called “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” was launched Thursday to encourage safe and sober operation of motor vehicles and boats.”There have already been two boating fatalities in N.C. this summer that involved alcohol,” said Marshall Poe. “So I’m hoping this campaign will show that drinking while operating any kind of machinery is not OK because it can cause devastating loss to families.”Last year, the State Highway Patrol investigated 275 fatal collisions and more than 9,578 injury wrecks during the summer months, including 54 fatal collisions and 844 injury accidents due to impaired driving.”Partnering with fellow law enforcement agencies to accomplish the goal of saving lives is something we always encourage,” said Col. Glenn McNeill, commander of the State Highway Patrol. “This campaign is simply another way we focus on removing impaired motorists from our state’s roadways.”The State Forensic Test for Alcohol Branch and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving N.C. chapter joined them to help get the word out.”We are so grateful for what they do to keep everyone safe, and we feel like its important that we help by sharing our story too and spread awareness and the dangers of drunk driving and drunk boating,” said Marshall Poe.In 2016, Sheyenne’s Law was passed, making it a felony charge if a boater is impaired and accidentally injures or kills another person on the water. Legislation being considered in the N.C. legislature would increase the penalties for causing death by operating a boat or motor vehicle under the influence. H.B. 65 has already passed the House and is now in committee in the Senate. It would make penalties for killing someone with a boat or vehicle while under the influence carry jail time of up to 27 months.