Hunter Bland and Conner Young are members of the University of Florida Bass Fishing Team. Saturday January 14, 2017 Bland and Conner were fishing in the FLW bass tournament on Lake Seminole along Georgia’s border with Florida. It looks like the accident may have occurred shortly after blastoff as they are following a wake and several boats run by them to their left. Bland and Young are running about 57 mph, the boat’s hydraulic steering is thought to have malfunctioned, the large outboard motor fliped all the way to the side and the boat swerved hard right. They were both ejected.
The accident was captured by an onboard GoPro camera providing the first ever bass boat ejection video we are aware of. The video is remarkably stable, in high resolution, and even provides a slow motion view. Fittingly, it opens with a scripture.
The FLW tournament was the YETI College Southeastern Conference opener. FLW’s website shows there were 140 teams in the tournament, including some other teams from the University of Florida.
The operator was wearing the kill switch lanyard, as is required by most bass tournaments, and both were wearing inflatable life jackets (PFDs), also required. Those rules plus these young men’s presence of mind to follow those rules, likely prevented a much different outcome. Even so, the boat still spun about 360 degrees.
Mustang’s logo is clearly visible on the passengers inflatable pfd.
The video shows a wake in front of them indicating they are likely in line following a blast off, as does the morning sun. Once they are ejected you see several boats fly by to their left. We commend the young men who stopped to check on them.
The boat operator wearing the kill switch lanyard, the use of a foot throttle, and wearing life jackets likely prevented the video from capturing a gruesome scene. Instead, it stands as a testament to encourage others to follow their example.
Thanks to Hunter Bland and Conner Young, several boaters will be attaching their lanyards, at least for a while.