Mother of Boating Accident Victim Watches as Governor Signs Benninghoff DUI Boating Bill
7/25/2011

Andi Heidt, the mother of 12-year-old boating accident victim Valerie Heidt, was in Harrisburg on Monday to attend a ceremonial bill signing, where Gov. Tom Corbett penned his name on a new law introduced by local Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) to strengthen penalties against persons convicted of driving a watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

With Andi Heidt, the mother of 12-year-old boating accident victim Valerie Heidt, at their side, Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) watched as Gov. Tom Corbett today in Harrisburg ceremonially signed the local legislator’s bill into law, which strengthens penalties against persons convicted of driving a watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

“I am so pleased that Valerie’s mother, Andi, could be here with us today,” Benninghoff said.  “It has been a long, hard road that has brought us to this point.  My hope is that this law will spare other families from suffering the loss felt by Andi and the countless others who knew and loved Valerie.” 

Benninghoff’s House Bill 78 originated after the 2009 death of Valerie, who was killed in a boating accident in the Susquehanna River.  Heidt was killed by a man operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol. 

The new law, Act 33 of 2011, changes the penalty for homicide by watercraft while under the influence from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony, bringing it in line with the penalty for vehicular homicide while driving under the influence. 

Act 33 also provides that a consecutive three-year prison term will be imposed for each victim whose death was the result of operating a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. 

“This law is about bringing parity to the system,” Benninghoff said.  “The families of the victims don’t care whether the incident happened on water or on land.  Their suffering is no less one way or the other.  The law now reflects the fact that driving under the influence, whether it’s in a car or boat, is unacceptable.  If we can prevent just one family from suffering the loss felt by Andi Heidt, this law will be well worth it.” 

State Representative Kerry Benninghoff
171st District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact: Dan Massing    
dmassing@pahousegop.com
717.772.9845
KerryBenninghoff.com
Facebook.com/RepBenninghoff

Share |