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First conviction for death by impaired boating in NC sends man to prison for 9-18 years


A fatal boating crash has resulted in the first conviction of death by impaired boating in North Carolina.

Officials with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission say Matthew Ferster of Brunswick County pled guilty to three counts of Death by Impaired Boating, also known as Sheyenne’s Law.

He was sentenced to 9 to 18 years in prison for his role in a March 2020 boat crash that resulted in the deaths of Jennifer Hayes, Megan Lynn, and Garret Smith.

Sheyenne’s Law, named for a teen killed by an impaired boater on Lake Norman in 2016, increased the penalty for impaired boating that results in a death or serious injury from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Annette is originally a Midwest gal, born and raised in Michigan, but with career stops in many surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest, and various parts of the southeast. An award-winning journalist and mother of four, Annette moved to eastern North Carolina in 2019 to be closer to family – in particular, her two young grandchildren. It’s possible that a -27 day with a -68 windchill in Minnesota may have also played a role in that decision. In her spare time, Annette does a lot of kiddo cuddling, reading, and producing the coolest Halloween costumes anyone has ever seen. She has also worked as a diversity and inclusion facilitator serving school districts and large corporations. It’s the people that make this beautiful area special, and she wants to share those stories that touch the hearts of others. If you have a story idea to share, please reach out by email to westona@cravencc.edu.