Brunswick Co. man sentenced, becomes first in state to be convicted of death by impaired boating
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission announced Tuesday that one of its investigations has led to the first death by impaired boating conviction in North Carolina.
In 2020, Matthew Ferster, of Brunswick County, was the driver of a boat involved in a triple fatal collision with another boat on the Waccamaw River.
Garrett Smith, 21, Jennifer Hayes, 37, and Megan Lynn, 21, were killed in the crash, with two others receiving minor injuries.
Ferster and the sole passenger on his boat were not injured.
“Matthew Ferster, of Brunswick County, pled guilty to three counts of Death by Impaired Boating, also known as Sheyenne’s Law, on Aug. 28,” the N.C. Wildlife release states. “He was sentenced to 9 ½ to 18 ½ years in prison for his role in a March 2020 boating collision that resulted in the deaths of Jennifer Hayes, 26, Megan Lynn, 21, and Garret Smith, 21, all of Columbus County.”
Sgt. Matt Criscoe, with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Law Enforcement Division, led the investigation. Brunswick County District Attorney Investigator Eric Hackney and over 20 local, state and federal agencies assisted with the case, which spanned three years.
“Sheyenne’s Law, which was passed in July 2016, increased the penalty for impaired boating that results in a death or serious injury from a misdemeanor to a felony,” the release explains. “The law was named in memory of Sheyenne Marshall, a 17-year-old from Concord, who was killed by an impaired boater as she was knee-boarding on Lake Norman in July 2015. After learning that boating while impaired was only a Class 2 misdemeanor, Marshall’s family lobbied the N.C. General Assembly for stiffer penalties for impaired boating, and a year later the legislature passed ‘Sheyenne’s Law.’”
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