After losing a friend in a boating accident, Sequoyah High School student Mary David Miller decided to dedicate her senior project to making the waters safer.
The teen notified the Cherokee County Board of Education at its February meeting, where she asked all board members to sign her boat safety pledge and explained her project, which is geared toward raising awareness for boat safety and encouraging boater safety certification.
Miller’s project has also coincided with the passage of Senate Bill 136, the Kile Glover Boat Education Law and the Jake and Griffin Prince BUI law, filed in early February.
On Wednesday, SB 136 passed the House by a 146-17 vote. The Senate unanimously passed the bill March 6.
“Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona are areas where Cherokee families often go in the summer months for some fun and relaxation,” Miller said to the board members. “My friend and those boys are just a few high-profile examples of several incidents when overcrowding, drinking and overall carelessness has led to tragedy at the lake.”
“As a Cherokee county young adult, I am often on the lake with friends. It’s important for me to preserve the fun that I’ve had and encourage my friends to make safe boating fun boating,” she said.
Miller has also spent the last several months meeting with community members, working on a Facebook campaign, collecting 176 pledges and encouraging friends and family to take boater education courses. She recently took the course online and received her boater education certification.
Finally, Miller held a pledge launch March 9 as a symbolic gesture of commitment to safety on the water.
“From my (project) facilitator’s boat, we launched 21 Japanese lanterns as a symbol of the pledges made for boater safety awareness,” Miller said. “Each lantern represented eight pledges signed. The lanterns were beautiful and could be seen across Lake Allatoona for miles.”
If signed into law, the bill passed this week at the state Legislature would lower the legal limit for boating under the influence to .08 grams per 100, making boaters face the same standards as drivers of motor vehicles.
The bill would also require children up to age 13 to wear life jackets, as previously was only required for youth 10 and under, increase the age limit to operate some boats and personal watercraft and require boating education.
The bills are named for three boys who lost their lives in boating accidents over the last year.
The Prince brothers were killed in June 2012 when another boat struck the pontoon boat carrying the two boys and others. It took rescuers nine days to find Griffin Prince’s body.
Kile Glover, former stepson of entertainer Usher Raymond, died last July from injuries he sustained when he was struck by a personal watercraft while riding on an inner tube pulled by a larger boat.