Joseph Drew Smith
Drew’s death is a reflection of his life. The impact of his love for life has continued to influence the lives of those he touched as well as those who never knew him. Born in Columbia, Drew live in Lexington all of his life. He had just completed the 5th grade at White Knoll Elementary where he was described by one teacher as a student that “just seemed to light up the room” when he came through the door.
Candles have been lit in his memory in cathedrals all over England. A church pew in a rustic Honduran church was dedicated to him. And a prayer of thanksgiving for his life has been prayed at the Mount of Olives.
But more importantly, The Boating Safety Act of 1999 known as Drew’s Law was passed through the combined efforts of Drew’s parents, the State Legislature, DNR, and concerned citizens. Now, the law recognizes a death at the hands of drunken boaters is just as devastating as a death on our highways by an intoxicated driver.
The passage of Drew’s Law brought focus to the long-ignored boating problem. Students of the Lexington High School Swim Team have initiated the Lake Murray Swim in honor of Drew and to focus attention on boating safety. As a result, the Drew Smith Scholarship has been established.
Drew’s life mattered. All the positive results, all the ripple effects of his death speak to that fact. Last year saw the safest boating season since DNR began keeping records. Possibly, Drew saved one of your loved ones. Just as Drew’s memory lives on, so must the positive efforts to make sure this little boy will be honored and remembered by all who love the joys of living.
March 23, 2000
The following letter was sent to the South Carolina House and Senate members in June of 1999 and a month later “Drew’s Law” The Boating Safety and Reform Act of 1999 was signed in to law.
June 2, 1999
In our hustle and bustle world, it’s easy to overlook the things we all take for granted. What will I give my son for his birthday? Will we take some time off during the summer to visit with relatives or friends? Yet, for this summer and all others to come, life will never be quite the same. The loss of a loved one is something you never quite get over. The simple everyday tasks, going to the store, watching children play or the school bus stopping in front of your house, remind you of an earlier time and it rekindles your pain. For my family and myself, our lives have changed forever. So, what do we do? It would be easier to pretend nothing has changed, but any of you that have been down this road know that’s impossible. So you take the hand you’ve been dealt, and you try to make sense of it. You focus your energy on doing something good. You try to make a difference. You don’t let anyone or anything stop you. You somehow pretend the criticism of your work doesn’t bother you. So you go on to do for others in memory of your loss.
This Sunday June the 6th would have been our son Drew’s thirteenth birthday, but he is not here. His life like too many others on our waterways was taken by a careless act. Our current laws tell me that my son’s life was less important than a person killed on our highways. Will changing the law stop this senseless tragedy? I do not think so, but if it causes one person to stop and think, if it saves one life, then our work would have been worthwhile.
No amount of wishing will bring my son back, but this isn’t about Drew, this is about your sons, your daughters. We sincerely hope you never have to go through what our family has. My family and I would like to thank all of you who have worked on the Boating Safety Bill and ask you not to forget the ones who are not with us this summer.
Randy, Karen and Randall Smith