Millicent “Milli” McDonald would have turned 20 on Nov. 18 and though her mother won’t be able to give her an earthly present this year, she’s working on a gift she hopes will honor her daughter’s life for many years to come.
McDonald, 19, was killed in a jet-ski collision on Lake Marion in May.
Now, her mom, Melissa Grice of Manning, is asking that residents of South Carolina sign a petition asking the state legislature to implement a law that would require Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officers to administer a breathalyzer test on any and all drivers involved in a watercraft collision on any body of water in South Carolina that results in great bodily injury or death – legislation she’d like to see called Milli’s Law.
“I want other people to be aware that the laws of the road are not the same of the laws of the water,” Grice said. “The laws are very different. There is no law that requires DNR to give a breathalyzer to watercraft operators who have been involved in a collision, and I think it’s something we desperately need.”
According to S.C. Department of Natural Resources Capt. Robert McCullough said McDonald and a 26-year-old Florence man were riding personal watercrafts near the landing at approximately 7 p.m. on May 19. As they were riding on the watercraft, the man crashed into McDonald. McDonald was airlifted from the scene to a Columbia hospital. She never regained consciousness and was pronounced brain dead less than 24 hours later.
So far, Grice said several business owners in Florence, Marion, Sumter and Clarendon counties are on board with her effort and have petitions in their establishments. Family members and friends are also circulating petitions throughout the area.
“This is the only way I’m able to keep going,” Grice said. “If I was not doing this, I don’t know that I could get up and get moving everyday. But Milli was such a fighter. She always stood up for her friends and what she believed in. November is her birthday month, and it’s going to be very emotional and difficult not having her here. I can’t give her a gift this year, but Milli was a fighter, so this is what I can give her. I can fight for her and for other kids and families. The key is to make people stop and think and to be safe on the water so other families won’t have to go through what we are going through.”
Grice said she hopes to gather thousands of signatures but no matter how many people sign the petition her plan is to appear before the state legislature in January to ask representatives to consider writing and passing Milli’s Law.
“We’re not going to give up,” Grice said. “This is something we all need to help keep our waterways safe.”