boat dock Wahoodocks

Tennessee Lawmakers Propose Marina Safety Law

Two Tennessee lawmakers have introduced Tennessee House Bill 1892, also known as “The Noah Winstead/Nate Lynam Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Act.” The law is named after two boys who were electrocuted while swimming at a lake marina in 2012.

Rep. Tilman Goins, and Sen. Steve Southerland, both of Hamblen County where the accident occurred, are hoping the law, intended to eliminate electrocution accidents at boat marinas, will prevent future tragedies.

The Times News in Tennessee reported that Noah Winstead, the 10-year-old son of Todd and Jessica Winstead of Morristown, died on the afternoon of July 4, 2012, from the initial shock. His 11-year-old friend, Nate Lynam, died the following day after being placed on life support at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville.

The bill would make it a misdemeanor crime if a marina fails to install ground fault protection, and a felony crime if failure to install causes death, the Times News reported.

Electric shock incidents around docks are a common problem as many docks are not maintained and inspected. EC&M has looked at this problem before with a Forensics Casebook from 2010 that covered a boy’s death in which the investigation revealed a lethal combination of severed ground wire and water buildup in a junction box.

Then in 2012, the Kansas City Star reported that three electrocutions that July and several reported shocks had caused concern about electrical wiring installed decades ago on boat docks at the Lake of the Ozarks, Mo.

John Cavallaro, P.E., Forensic Engineering, Inc. recommends to not "assume that because you see a GFCI circuit interrupter in-circuit that you are protected from a ground fault. Always insist that anyone doing electrical work for you gets an electrical permit. Although this does cost money, in the end, the customer can rest assured knowing that a qualified electrical inspector will make sure the electrical installation is completed within the confines of the NEC."

What can we do as a professional
community to minimize these unfortunate accidents?
Share your thoughts and opinions with us on our new EC&M-Talk forum.

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