Charges filed in AACC lacrosse player death


Photo courtesy of Frank Mitchell III

A 21-year-old has been charged in the death of AACC lacrosse player Nick Barton. Shown, Barton playing in a March 2022 game. To contact AACC Counseling Services, call 410-777-7111.

Zack Buster, Editor-in-Chief

This story includes mentions of death.

Police charged a 21-year-old Churchton resident on Feb. 2 with homicide and manslaughter in the death of a Riverhawks lacrosse player in a boating accident last summer.

In addition to three felony charges, former Virginia Wesleyan University Lacrosse player Shayne Kenneth Smith also was charged with seven misdemeanors related to operating a vessel while impaired by drugs and alcohol.

Smith faces up to 26 years in prison.

AACC lacrosse player Nick Barton died in June after the 17-foot boat he was riding in struck a support structure near the Parish Creek Marina on the West River, throwing Barton, 21, into the water.

Second-year communications student Payton Williams, who played lacrosse with Barton last year, told Campus Current he feels indifferent about Smith’s arrest, saying while “justice was done,” people should remember how Barton lived and see him as an example.

“I just hope that everybody involved in the situation––everybody who knows Nick––just continues to live through Nick and live like Nick because Nick was just a great kid,” Williams, who plays offense, said. “He had made everybody smile and, you know, I just hope that everyone will want to be like him.”

After the early June accident, former AACC defensive athlete Dylan Anderson described his teammate as a leader.

“He was a Riverhawk [and] he was holding people to that same standard,” Anderson told Campus Current last summer, noting Barton’s “resilience.”

“Our hearts are broken over the passing of Nick Barton,” Athletic Director Duane Herr said in a statement last summer. “Nick was a bright spot within the Riverhawk athletics community who left a lasting impression on everyone he met. It was a privilege watching him grow and flourish over the last three years.”

Former head lacrosse coach Joe Stanilaus said in a June statement that Barton, a midfielder, inspired his fellow Riverhawks to play better on the field.

“I am so grateful our paths crossed,” Stanilaus said. “We will forever miss his presence, but will never forget the leader he was becoming.”

In his last season on the team, Barton tallied 18 points, scoring 15 goals and getting three assists. In his three years on the team, he scored 39 goals and totaled nine assists across 29 career games.

Barton was a dean’s list student who made the athletic director’s honor roll twice.

Smith is set to appear in court on April 21.

Managing Editor Sam Gauntt and Photo Editor Megan Cunningham contributed to this article