(WBIR - Morristown) Noah Dean Winstead, 10, and Nate Lynam,11, have become two familiar names across East Tennessee. The young boys died two years ago after they were electrocuted while swimming at a marina on Cherokee Lake on July 4, 2012. The boys' death drove lawmakers to pass the "Noah Dean and Nate Act".
The "Noah Dean and Nate Act", which takes effect on January 1, 2015, gives boat dock and marina operators until April 1, 2015 to install permanent safety signs that can be read from 80 feet away. The signage must state "Electric Shock Hazard Risk: No Swimming Within 100 Yards Of The Boat Dock."
The new law also requires boat docks and marinas to undergo an annual inspection of its electrical equipment and it requires boat docks and marinas to have ground fault protection, a breaker that automatically kills the power when electricity is detected in the water.
Jessica Winstead, Noah's mother, and several other relatives and friends decided to have a picnic at the burial site of the boys two years after their tragic accident. The group filled the Emma Jarnagin Cemetery with lots of laughter, smiles, and they even brought Christmas gifts. Winstead said they've decided to make the day most Americans celebrate Independence Day the family's "Christmas in July".
As the group enjoyed their white elephant gift exchange, Winstead thought about the last year and her journey to get the "Noah Dean and Nate Act" passed. She said the journey was tough, but worth it. State legislators unanimously passed the bill.
"It was starting to lose a little steam. We were getting a little bit of opposition and we made the decision to go to Nashville and I spoke out to the Senate," Winstead said. "I think that was a huge turning point and I think it was very important that I went down there and they actually heard from Noah's mom because I never wanted this to come across as some grieving mom who's out to get somebody and make them pay. I wanted them to see this was to make our lakes safer for Tennessee."
Winstead said many have told her how much more careful they are around water.
"I get people daily telling me how much more careful they are with their children at marinas, at lakes, around boats. Boat owners are telling me how they're getting their boats checked and that's they key. Education is such a key," Winstead said. "I was so worried that Noah would be forgotten and he would have just been somebody who had passed through this Earth in 10 years. I don't worry about that anymore."