Media coverage of 1990 – 1999 recreational boat propeller accidents.
- 23 Dec 1999 Associated Press “Lobster Man Dies After Getting Caught in Propeller Shaft” reports A. Militello of Goucester, age 40, was on the Dean, a fishing boat, near Bakers Island Massachusetts (about 3 miles from the entrance to Beverly and Salem Harbours, when he became caught in the prop shaft about 9:15 am Wednesday 22 December. A nearby fishing vessel notified the Coast Guard which transported him to Manchester Marina. He was then moved to Beverly Hospital and pronounced dead from “multiple trauma”. Mr. Militello’s son was also on the boat during the accident.
- November 1999 Accident – 5 Oct 2000 Birmingham Evening Mail (England) “Accident Verdict” reports Michael Whitley, 54 of Forge Valley Way, Wombourne, was on a diving trip with other divers at the Egyptian resort of Hurghadawhen last November (Nov 1999). A well known writer of naval history, he died of “massive head injuries” after being hit by a boat. Post mortem examination showed he suffered a “broken arm as well as a severe skull fracture” when he was hit by the boat’s propeller. His diving buddy tried to save him, but was unsuccessful.
- 6 Sept 1999 Accident Date – Kenneth Wall, 39, was swimming in a marked swimming area on Prien Lake off Israel LaFleur beach (south of Interstate 210) on 6 Sept 1999 when he was stuck by an unidentified boat. An autopsy reported he died “as the result of chop-type injuries of the head from a boat’s propeller.” per the suit, Mary Jo Wall, et al v. Calcasuieu Parish Police Jury. Court of Appeals of Louisiana, 3rd Circuit 2002-0451 (La.App. 3 Cir. 12/11/02); 833 So. 2d 528; 2002 La. App. LEXIS 3744 December 11, 2002, Rendered.
Kenneth J. Wall, age 39, was swimming in a marked swimming area on Prien Lake off Israel LaFleur beach (south of Interstate 210) on 6 Sept 1999 when he was stuck by an unidentified boat. An autopsy reported he died “as the result of chop-type injuries of the head from a boat’s propeller.” The suit alleges there were not enough buoys and rope marking the swimming area. At issue was if maritime law applied to a swimmer in navigable waters. The case was ruled to fall under maritime law.
- 9 Aug 1999 Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Washington) “2 SeaFair Spectators Injured by Propeller” reports the driver of a boat started it, not knowing the two women were near the propeller about 4 pm yesterday 8 August. “One woman’s foot being nearly amputated” by the propeller and the other woman received “deep leg cuts.” Both were taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
- 26 July 1999 USA Today “Flyers’ Tertyshny Dies in Boating Accident” reports Dmitri Tertyshny the 22 year old defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers was boating Friday night 23 July at Okanagan Lake in Kelowna, British Columbia. He was kneeling on seats in the front a the boat, it struck a wave, he fell overboard forward, the boat ran over him and its propeller struck him in the neck. “He bled very quickly and died very quickly” per and investigator.
- 4 July 1999 Accident Date – Benjamin Greenleaf, age 20, struck and killed by propeller of a pontoon boat. Reported in USCG Docket 10163 letter from his father along with summaries of several other pontoon boat propeller accidents. USCG-2001-10163-79.
- 21 June 1999 The Sun (London England) “2 Girl Divers Killed” reports on two separate accidents yesterday (20 June) claiming the lives on young female divers. One of those accidents was a propeller accident. A 29 year old novice female diver was searching for wrecks with her boy friend and five friends from Wrexham Seals Sub Aqua Club. She surfaced a mile off Abersoch, North Wales and was hit by the propeller of the dive boat, suffering fatal head injuries. She was rushed to shore to an ambulance, but pronounced dead at the site.
- 2 Jun 1999 The Desert News (Salt Lake UT) “New Zealander Drowns in Lake Powell Accident” reports a 35 year old New Zealand man, Timothy Crawford, currently living in Breckenridge CO was on a houseboat with friends on Lake Powell Memorial Day (31 May) when he tried to beach the houseboat in windy conditions. The anchor became caught in the propeller, he entered the water to untangle it, five minutes later his friends pulled him from the water and performed CPR. He was in full cardiac arrest when airmedics arrived, taken to Page Hospital and pronounced dead at 6:30pm.
- 23 May 1999 Accident Date – 8 June 2009 Naples Daily News (Naples Florida) “Boat Propeller Accident Trial Starts Off With Heated Attorney Arguments” reports Audrey Decker of East Naples Florida fell from a 13 foot motorboat (Boston Whaler) on 23 May 1999. She and her husband were on a sunset cruise behind their home. The boat hit a wake, she fell overboard from a swivel chair, and was struck by the propeller. The accident developed into a propeller guard case tried in June 2009. We covered the trial at Decker vs. OMC Propeller Injury Trial.
- 1999 – Accident Year – 10 Dec 2008 Miami Herald “Free Diving Spearfishermen Rely on the Buddy System reports Tony Miranda was participating in the 1999 U.S. National Freediving Spearfishing Championship in the Florida Keys in 1999 “when a competitor’s boat propeller nearly severed his left foot.”
- 1999 – Accident Year – 11 April 07 Messenger Portside (Australia) Shane DeGillio, age 29 back in 1999 was commercial fishing with his father off Port Wakefield, the boat hit a concrete barrel that was not marked, both men were ejected, Shane’s hand and arm were struck by the propeller. It severed several fingers and mutilated his lower arm. His lower arm was eventually amputated. Today (2011) he is still commercial fishing.
- 2 Oct 1998 Birmingham Post (England) “Toddler Fell Into Barge’s Propeller” reports Riku Motomura, age two, born to Japanese parents living in South London was on a narrow boat with his parents during a family holiday in Warwickshire on 7 August. The boat was moving slowly, but clipped the bank, he lost his balance, and fell into the propeller. His parents dove in but could not find him. Three or four minutes later they saw his life jacket floating at the rear of the boat. The young boy was taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital by ambulance with serious head injuries and and was dead on arrival.
- 23 Sep 1998 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “Diver Hit by Propeller Beats Odds by Living” reports an update on B. Schaal, age 47, of Twin Lakes. He was diving with a group of divers on Kenosha County’s Power Lake back on August 12th when he was ran over by a speedboat and struck by its propeller. He was given a 20 percent chance of survival as he received “several broken bones and deep cuts on his back that left him susceptible to a potentially life-threatening infection.” He is now able to get around with a walker and often sits by a front window to watch traffic. His friends honk as they drive by.
- September 1998 Accident Date – 5 May 2007 News.CN (China coverage of an accident in Brazil) “Entrepreneur Convicted For Mutilating Olympic Sailor” reports Lars Schmidt Grael, an Olympic Sailor for Brazil, was sailing off Vitoria when another boat crossed into the competition lines, collided with his boat, and the propeller lacerated his leg which had to be amputated later. Grael had won bronze Olympic medals in 1988 and 1996, and his brother won a gold in 2004. This report covers the sentencing of the other boat operator to three years in prison, which might be replaced by community service. The boat owner (father of the operator) was ordered to pay a monthly fine to the victim as well as a substantial indemnity.
- 7 August 1998 Accident Date – 12 August 1998 Rocky Mountain News (Colorado) reports Carol Johnson of Highlands Ranch Colorado was water skiing on Lake McConaughy in northwest Nebraska, the boat was picking her up, per the boat operator – she drifted in front of the boat, he shifted the boat into reverse, but it went forward and ran over her. An investigator suggests the boat operator panicked, shifted the boat into reverse by mistake when she was behind the boat, and ran over her. She was life flighted to a hospital in Scotts Bluff Nebraska where she died. Other reports indicate she suffered deep cuts to her legs from the propeller.
- 31 Aug 1998 Accident Date – 25 Sep 2008 News Gazette of Champaign-Urbana IL “A Whole New World” provides an update on Nichole Millage of Edmond Oklahoma who lost her left leg just below the knee to a propeller accident in Oklahoma on Clinton Lake back on 31 August 1998 at age 21. She recently played sitting volleyball in the Beijing Paralympics.
- 31 Aug 1998 AP “Colorado Man Drowns in Lake Powell” reports Scott Elizondo, age 38 of Arvada, was attempting to untangle a rope from the propellers of an anchored houseboat on Lake Powell. He cleared the rope from the left propeller and swam to clear the right propeller and disappeared. The boat motors were not running at that time. Others radioed for help about 3:15pm Sunday 30 August when he could not be found. Divers later recovered his body in about 8 feet of water Sunday afternoon.
- Approx Summer 1998 (96 or 97) Accident Date – 12 June 2009 Gazette Xtra (Janesville Wisconsin) reports Rachel Myers, now 18, just graduated from high school. She lost her foot to a propeller the summer of her first grade year. She was in her father’s boat on Rock River near Beloit, the boat jumped, she fell overboard, and the propeller cut her leg, about halfway up her left calf. She now has an artificial limb and enjoys studying art.
- Double Fatality – 6 August 1998 Accident Date – 1 July 2009 NWA Arkansas News “Safety Has Always Been His Focus” reports the recollections of a retiring Arkansas Lake Enforcement Officer. He mentions a 1998 accident in which a 46 year old woman and her 16 year old daughter were thrown from a boat and killed by its propeller.
Jan/Feb 2003 Small Craft Advisory (NASBLA) mentions the kill switch legislation tied to this accident on page 18 and places the accident on Lake Bella Vista.
We used the above information to find the accident in BARD (the Coast Guard Boating Accident Report Database). Accident Report 9804084 – 6 August 1998 accident. Susan Warnke was the boat operator pulling Katie Warnke and Kristen Warnke on tubes. They hit a wake and the operator was ejected. We will look for more details as time permits.
- 24 July 1998 Associated Press “Boy Drowns in Lake Powell Accident” reports a family houseboat excursion was looking for a camping spot in Wetherill Canyon. A 4 year old boy of Bountiful Utah was in the 18 foot runabout associated with the houseboat with six other children when the runabout hit a shoal. The young boy was thrown from the boat and struck by its propeller. He was taken to Dangling Rope Marina in Kane County. A helicopter was dispatched from Page, but he was declared dead at the scene. Note- he was struck the the runabout propeller NOT by the houseboat
- 22 July 1988 Accident date – 8 February 2013 The Star (Toronto Canada) reports an update on Kristy Allison-McDonald who was tubing with two ice skating team mates and their mothers on Three-Legged Lake near Parry Sound way back on 22 July 1998, half a life time ago for Kristy. The tow rope got caught in the propeller, a mother operating the boat went to the stern to untangle the rope without shifting to neutral, as she untangle the rope from the prop, the boat bolted forward and began to circle with no one at the controls. Kristy saw it coming at the tube she was on, her arm was severed and her foot was also cut by the propeller. One of the mothers was a nurse and able to stop the bleeding from her severed artery. She was life flighted to a hospital in Toronto. Doctors originally hoped to be able to reattach her arm, but there was no arm stump to attach it to. Now, 15 years later, she is competing in Synchronized Figure Skating.
- 14 July 1998 Los Vegas Review Journal “Lake Mead Area on Deadly Pace With 16 Water Fatalities This Year” reports a Saturday 11 July propeller accident after 6 pm involving Kevan Ulsaker of Herndon VA. He was thrown from a PWC, while swimming back to the PWC he was struck by a boat headed to Hemeway Harbor. The boaters took him to the launch ramp, he was airlifted to UMC. “Suffering propeller cuts along his body, died just after 3 a.m. Sunday.
- 3 January 1998 accident – 6 February 2003 AAP General News (Australia) “NSW: Man Awarded a Further $40,000 for Motorboat Accident” reports Roderick Allan Moore was snorkeling in the Swansea Channel on Lake Macquarie near Newcastle on 3 January 1998 when he was struck by a motor boat. His estimated lost wages were increased from $150 to $200 per week in the NSW District Court. This adjustment added $40,000 (Australian dollars) to his previous $216,570 judgment against the operator of the boat that struck him for a new total of $256,804. Mr. Moore received severe injuries to both legs and ankles when he was struck by the boat’s propeller. He still walks with a limp, uses special boots and a stick. Earlier he was found to have contributed to the accident by snorkeling in a major navigational channel so the award was reduced by 40 percent.
- 5 Nov 1997 The Virginia Pilot “In Fla. Mishap, Boat Propeller Kills VA. Diver” an AP report says Janice A. Henne, age 65, of McLean VA was on a dive charter with 17 other divers. On Monday 3 November, they were off Palm Beach. The captain put the boat in gear to pickup divers at Breakers Reef and “he heard a thump, thump”. Another diver tried to free her from the propeller but could not.
- 1997 Accident Date – New South Wales Australia? – 16 July 2010 “Bluesfest Charges Dropped” reports David Noferi was hit by a propeller 13 years ago (calculates to 1997) when he was snorkeling. Recenty (2010) he was in a foray at a Blues Festival. Authorities say that after the prop strike to his head he had long standing issues with alcohol, other substances, and mental problems. Now 35, he is said to have a strong commitment for making positive changes and charges regarding the recent festival incident were dismissed.
- COMMERCIAL VESSEL 14 Oct 1997 Chicago Sun-Times “Swimmer Tried to Dodge Boat / Surgeons Can’t Re-attach Leg Severed by Propeller” reports K. Rooney and her husband were swimming 50 to 100 feet offshore (Lake Michigan) off Division Street about 10:55 am Sunday Oct. 12th when she was ran over by the Sea Dog I. Her lower leg was severed above the ankle and found by police, but unable to be reattached because it was too badly damaged. She was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Sea Dog I is a tour boat operated by Seadog ventures.
- 3 Sep 1997 Washington Post “Boat Propeller Injures Virginia Man” reports J. Thompson, age 38, of Staunton Virginia was riding an inner tube in the Ohio River on Monday 1 September. He “was sucked into the propeller of a boat that was pulling him”. Yesterday, 2 Sept. he was listed in critical condition at University Hospital in Columbus Ohio.
- 27 August 1997 Accident Date – Haley Shannon, then age six, fell overboard on Lake Kaweah in California and was struck by the propeller. The accident later developed into a legal case- Haley Shannon (a minor) v. Phillip Rhodes.
- 18 Aug 1997 The Sun (London England) “Horror of Boat Plunge – Accident” reports a 15 year old girl from Awliscombe, Devon fell from a dinghy last night (17 Aug) while boating with a friend at Exmouth. They hit something in the water and were both tossed out. The 15 year old was struck by the propeller in the face and “suffered horrific face injuries”.
- 18 Aug 1997 New York Times “Rescue Boat Kills Woman Thrown in Water by Storm” reports a 36 year old woman, M. Papalcure, was on a 22 foot sailboat with her husband headed from Seawanhaka Yacht Club on Centre Island about 4:30 Saturday afternoon 16 August. A power boat returning to Cold Spring Harbor when weather reports told of worsening weather, saw the Papalcure boat in “obvious distress.” Before they could reach the boat, they heard a grinding sound and spotted a man in the water. Gusting winds had capsized the sail boat and knocked them into the water. The Papalcures tried to swim for Cooper Bluff, about 1/8 mile away, but were swept away by the winds and current. Mr Papalcure told police his wife lost consciousness after telling him she had been hurt. Her body was later recovered and found to have a severed leg and severely cut torso, apparently hit by the 22 inch propeller blades of the rescue boat. The rescuing boater originally gave the wrong coordinates to authorities due to the panic of the situation.
- 11 Aug 1997 The Times (London England) “Uncle Arrested After Teenager Dies on Jet Ski” reports a teenage girl, Faye Grundy, and her family were celebrating her sisters birthday on Saturday (9 August) at 40-acre Queenford Lake, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Her first time on a PWC, she was riding double, behind her uncle. The PWC collided with a boat towing a skier, she “was catapulted into the propeller of the boat and suffered severe injuries to her stomach and a leg”. Several PWCs had been rented by the group. The facility operators reported their rescue services were at the accident site within seconds, she was immediately brought to shore and resuscitation procedures were continued until the ambulance services arrived. She died on the way to the hospital.
- 10 July 1997 The Sun (London England) “Boat Propeller Kills Dad – Family Tragedy 2” reports John Vardy, a teacher, was cruising on a 30 foot narrow boat yesterday with his wife and three children at Audlem, Cheshire while the lock was filling up. A rush of water hit the boat, he fell from the deck and his head hit the propeller. His “head was sucked into the churning screw”.
- 3 April 1997 Daily News (Los Angeles CA) “Woman Falls into Lake, Injured by Propeller” reports a 30 year old woman was sitting on the front of a fishing boat Wednesday 2 April in Pyramid Lake. She seems to have slipped and fell in, “and was run over by the boat’s propeller.” She was life flighted to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. She received a “broken left leg and major cuts to her left buttock.” The helicopter pilot said the water was so cold it “probably helped stop the bleeding.”
- 6 Sep 1996 Tulsa World – Associated Press “Body of Woman Recovered From Lake” reports C. Jenkins, 35 of Wagoner, fell from a boat when her husband was taking off on Lake Fort Gibson about 11:45 am Wednesday 4 Sept and was struck by its propeller. Her body was recovered 5 Sept with “a large head wound and arm and facial lacerations”.
- 2 Sep 1996 The Sun (London England) “2 Injured by Rogue Ski Boat” reports one couple was in an inflatable dinghy yesterday (1 Sept) while another couple and their daughter were water skiing on the River Conwy, North Wales. The ski boat plunged out of control, “ploughed” into the inflatable dinghy, the man on the dinghy was struck by the boat and the woman on the dinghy was “severely cut by the boat’s propeller.” The were both airlifted to a hospital.
- 23 August 1996 Redding Record Searchlight (California) “Lake Fun Results in Leg Injury” reports D. Joosten jumped from a houseboat about 2pm Thursday (22 August) to retrieve a water ballon about a mile west of Bridge Bay near No Name Island. He was hit by a ski boat propeller, air lifted to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, and underwent surgery on his left foot.
- 20 Jun 1996 Accident Date – 23 June 2016 PineandLakes Echo Journal (Minnesota) reports a ten year old boy “fell from the front of a pontoon boat and was struck by the propeller”. He was accidentally pushed in. The boy sustained a compound skull fracture and other injuries during the accident.
- 21 May 1996 Watertown Daily Times (New York) “Two Boating Accidents Injure 4 on St. Lawrence” reports Mark Beattie, age 24 of Windsor Ontario Canada, was on a rented Holiday Houseboat near Heart Island on the St. Lawrence River about 2:45 pm Sunday May 19th. As they were pulling away from Heart Island, a lawn chair fell into the water from the houseboat. Mr. Beattie dove in to get it, the remaining passengers on the boat yelled for the operator to put the boat in reverse, he did and the boat backed into Mr. Beattie, striking him with the propellers which cut his leg. Those on board pulled him aboard and drove the boat to Noble-Samaritan Hospital.
- 20 Feb 1996 Boston Globe “Mass. Man Dies in Virgin Islands” reports a 31 year old man from Massachusetts was hit by a propeller while diving off Coki Point on the northern part of the island. J. Belanger “was apparently run over by the boat and died instantly.” He had been diving with friends.
- 25 Sept 1995 Redding Record Searchlight (Calif) “Two Cut by Prop on Lake Shasta” reports Two men riding tubes were cut by the prop of the boat towing them Sunday 24 Sept on Lake Shasta. R. Mendenall, 33 of Anderson, had his leg “almost completely severed by the propeller” and was airlifted to Mercy Medical Hospital in Redding. 30 year old T. Kenaly of Redding “suffered cuts on both legs” and was taken by ambulance to Mercy Medical. They were both on a two person tube about 4:15 pm near Digger Bay Marina when the boat was making sharp turns to fling the inner tube around. The driver then turned too sharp and whipped the men into the back of the boat. They were taken to Brige Bay Marina where they were met by medical personnel. The article includes a photo of the injured Mr. Menenhall and recounts other recent prop accidents on Lake Shasta.
- 25 Sep 1995 CNN News Report “Man Killed in Accident with Gloria Estefan’s Boat” reports Gloria Estefan, the singer, was onboard her 33 foot recreational boat with her husband off Miami Beach on Sunday 24 September. Two students from Howard University in Washington DC approached too close on a personal watercraft. Howard Clark, age 29, was sent airborne from the PWC by the wake and “into the boat’s propeller”. He was killed.
- 19 August 1995 -incident date – 23 Aug 1995 New York Times “A Woman’s Plunge to Death Transfixes Detroit” reports very early Saturday morning 19 August 1995 in Detroit, Dortha Word was pulled from her car on a bridge over the Detroit river, beaten, and some or all of her clothes ripped off. She jumped over the bridge into the water to escape as about 40 people looked on.Her body was found Monday about 10 miles downriver. The medical examiners office said she drowned. “On of her legs had been cut off, apparently by a boat’s propeller.”
- 21 July 1995 Redding Record Searchlight (CA) “Woman’s Legs Cut by Houseboat Prop” reports Shirley Jones, age 24 of Klamath Falls Oregon, sufferred major injuries Friday 20 July when a houseboat backed into her while she was swimming toward it about 6pm at Waters Gulch in the Sacramento arm of the lake. Her legs were cut severely. She was life flighted to Mercy Medical Center in Redding.
Other reports indicate her injuries were terribly severe and she died 8 days later. Her mother, Shirl Koop, went on to be an activist for stopping propeller injuries.
- 1995 – The Koop / Jones accident above and many other related California newspaper items from that era are in USCG Docket 10299 comment # 1773. Copies of many newspaper clippings predominantly on houseboat propeller accidents are on PDF pages 15 to 30.
- COMMERCIAL VESSEL July 1995 accident – 12 May 1999 Daily Record (Glasgow Scotland) “105,000 Pounds for Son of Diver Killed in Propeller Tragedy” reports the six year old son of a diver killed by a propeller in the North Sea in July 1995 was awarded an out of court settlement from the cable laying operation. A diving supervisor had erased a “black box” video of the actual accident. Bradely Westell, age 29, was killed instantly when his support ship’s propellers were turned on. Awards were also made to other family members and dependents.
Other reports indicate Mr. Westell was partially decapitated in the accident.
- 14 Jul 1995 Boston Globe “Medford Man Hurt in Boat Accident” reports M. Regan, age 30 of Medford, was boating with friends yesterday morning 13 July about 12:45am on Chelsa Creek in East Boston. The wake of another boat caused him to fall in. He was caught in the propeller of his own boat. Mr. Regan injured both his arms and his forehead and was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital.
- 10 July 1995 Jeanne Sprietsma was riding in an 18 foot ski boat powered by a 115HP Mercury Marine outboard on Dale Holow Lake. The lake spans the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Apparently when the boat turned, she fell overboard and was struck by the propeller, suffering fatal injuries. Her husband, Rex Sprietsma filed suit against Mercury Marine (Rex Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine) and Brunswick (who owned Mercury Marine) used Federal Pre-emption as a defense (since the Federal Boating Safety Act (FBSA) did not require propeller guards on all boats, states could not require them on specific boats). The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. In late 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the use of Federal Pre-emption in this case and sent the case back down to the Illinois Court system. We covered this landmark propeller case at Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine Propeller Case.
- 30 June 1995 Dallas Morning News “Healing Through Love: Woman Disfigured in Lake Boating Accident Recalls Kindness of Kin, Friends and Strangers” reports Stephanie Booker was in a boat on Lake Lewisville in Texas on 17 June. She and two friends were headed toward Charlie’s Pier 121 Marina when a cigarette styled boat hit the rear of their craft and sped away. She remembers seeing the hull before its propeller struck her. “I felt my face get ripped off.” Her face was almost cut into three parts. Authorities and investigators are trying to find the hit and run boat. She was flown to Methodist Medical Center in Dallas.
Note – this accident was covered many more times in the media over the next few years, including coverage of legal actions, efforts to identify the hit and run, a surprise search of about 3,000 boats at the Lake in July 1995, searching for wreckage on the lake bottom, possible involvment of a professional athlete, expiration of time limits to find the hit and run, the case being on a television program called ‘Unsolved Mysteries”, etc..
- 28 May 1995 Redding Record Searchlight (CA) “Two Men Cut by Propellers at Lake” reports on TWO separate propeller accidents happening almost simultaneously at Shasta Lake near the same place, near Silverthorne Marina, about 11:35 am Friday May 27th. Both later underwent surgery at Mercy Medical Center in Redding.
Larry Elmore, age 28 of Medford Oregon was “sucked” underwater by a houseboat propeller when the houseboat backed up and bumped him off a personal watercraft he was docking. “His left foot was badly sliced and his lower left leg was cut to the bone.”
Joseph Nolan, age 21 of Red Bluff, was standing in the front of a bass boat when he lost his balance and fell in. “The propeller cut his left thigh and lower leg to the bone, inflicting muscle damage.” Other reports indicate some skiing was going on, he stood up in the bow of an open bow boat, the engine cut out and restarted causing the boat to lurch and he was ejected. He also injured an arm.
- 15 May 1995 The Times (London UK) “School Secretary Killed Under Barge Propellers” reports Joan Whitehall, age 47, was a supervisor on an educational trip with about 20 children yesterday, May14th. She fell into Grand Union Canal in Birmingham while the barge was going through a tunnel in reverse. It is thought the barge hit the bank and she “slipped and screamed before being sucked under by the propellers, which trapped her as the boat swept over her. The boat had no safety rail to the rear. The barge was a green narrow boat named Chiltern.
- April 1995 “Miracle on Lake Travis” TexasHomeSchoolers.com self reports a Texas accident in which a fisherman (M. Evans) in a small boat by himself, fell from the boat, was struck by the prop, the boat continued to circle a while, then abandoned him far from shore. Later, two men returned in his boat and rescued him. His injuries required almost 60 stitches.
- 1995 Accident Date in South Africa – MailOnline (UK) “40,000 Pounds Benefit Cheat Amputee Jailed After Taking Part in BBC Adventure Documentary” reports Karl Sacks, now 48 and from Alwoodley, Leeds, lost part of his leg to a propeller in a 1995 South Africa diving accident.
- 19 Sept 1994 Redding Record Searchlight (CA) “Swimmer’s Feed Severly Injured by Boat’s Prop” reports David Tagg, age 26 of Colorado, was swimming under a drifting houseboat with a friend about 2:45 pm Sunday Sept 17th on Lake Shasta when the engine was started. The houseboat was part of a group of three houseboats. He suffered severe cuts to both feet and was taken to Bridge Bay Resort & Marina and life flighted to Mercy Medical Center in Redding.
- 11 June 1994 Phyllis Kopytko was on Table Rock Lake in Missouri enjoying her 19th wedding anniversary along with her husband (Bob Kopytko) and a fishing guide (Paul). They were in an 18 foot 200 HP outboard powered bass boat. All three of were ejected from the boat and it began to circle. She located her husband who told her the boat was coming at her, she dove and managed to escape being struck, but on the second pass she was pulled into the propeller and cut over much of her body. He husband and the guide were both stuck and killed by the propeller. Phyllis Kopytko’s left arm was amputated above the elbow and she has endured over 30 surgeries since the accident. She went on to a major force for propeller safety reform and is a member of SPIN (Stop Propeller Injuries Now). This report is an abbreviated version of the one on the SPIN site.
- 2 Jun 1994 Times-Picayune (Louisiana) “Covington Boy Hurt by Party Barge” reports a Tuesday 31 May accident involving a 14 year old boy from Covington. He fell into the Tchefuncte River and was hit by the prop of a party barge that passed over him. The 26 foot party barge he fell from the bow of was being operated by a 15 year old boy. It occurred about a quarter mile north of Louisiana 22 bridge in Madison near Deloaks subdivision. He “suffered severe cuts on his legs, back and left arm” and is now listed in stable condition at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital in Covington.
- February 1994 Trailer Boats magazine “Can Safety be Legislated?” discusses the “legislation of safety” and mentions one specific accident that occurred in the summer of 1993 on Lake Almanor (a large mountain lake) in Northern California. That afternoon, a 9 year old girl was bowriding on a pontoon boat going about 20 miles per hour. She fell from the bow, went under the boat between the pontoons, and was struck by the prop causing “extensive lacerations, nearly severing her leg. At last report this child was still in critical condition.”
- Approx 1994 Arizona Accident – 27 Apr 2008 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle “Saving Lives With Blood” tells how those giving blood saved the life of a propeller victim. Arlene Kensinger was skiing on Lake Havsu in Arizona 14 years ago. She was outside the wake of the boat, she released the rope, the boat turned to pick her up and her left leg became wrapped up in the rope and in the propeller. “She was being sucked in.” Her leg was cut off at the knee and her femur was split up past her hip. The boat became caught on some rocks and they were a while getting her to the hospital. She had two tablespoons of blood left and required 23 pints of rare O negative blood in 24 hours. Doctors at a Phoenix hospital did not think she would make it. Her leg was amputated at the hip and they waited. She made it and has since water skied again to prove she could do it. Her name is on the Arlene Kensigner Regional Blood Center in Cheyenne.
- 24 Nov 1993 Salt Lake Tribune “Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in Product Liability Lawsuit” reports on the case resulting from the 30 Aug 1985 injury of Scott Allen by the propeller of a 16.5-foot-long 1978 Wellcraft Marine operated by a friend. Powered by a 140 HP OMC outboard, the boat swerved sharply ejecing Mr Allen near Wahweap on Lake Powell. He received severe lacerations, his left leg was later amputated above the knee, and he required a colostomy. Mr. Allen sued Minnstar (makers of the boat), Wellcraft Marine, and OMC. The case is being returned to court.
- 22 August 1993 Sunday Times (London, England) “Speedboat Death Man is Bailed” reports a British accountant was boating in Spain last week off Calahonda beach, on the Costa del Sol when his boat struck a teenager. Lee Mason age 14 from Worthing, West Sussex, was snorkeling in the area. He (the boy) had been staying at a holiday villa with his parents. The boy was fatally injured was fatally injured “suffering head and neck injuries believed to have been caused by the motor launch’s propellers.” A friend, who was diving with him, tried to stop him from sinking while a couple in another boat pulled them out and took them to harbor.
- July 1993 – an article was published many years later describing this accident – 10 Jun 2005 CanWest Interactive (Canada) “Shuswap Lake Survivor Says Houseboat Accident Changed His Life” reports briefly on several houseboat accidents at Shuwsap including a July 1993 accident that claimed the life of Christine Hingley, age 27 and mother of two. A houseboat backed over her while she was trying to board a PWC and she was “caught in its propeller blades”.
- 6 Jun 1993 On June 6, 1993, Kathryn Lewis, an Oklahoma teenager, spent the day with her boyfriend’s family on Strom Thurmond Lake in Georgia. The boat was pulling her boyfriend on a tube, turned sharply to the right, and she was ejected to the left side of the boat. The propeller struck her several times in the head and body, and she died instantly. A major lawsuit (Lewis v. Brunswick) was later filed by her family against claiming: (1) the absense of a propeller guard made the engine a defective product, (2) negligence for failing to install a propeller guard, and (3) Brunswick attempted to suppress the production of propeller guards by third persons and exaggerated the performance differences between guarded engines and unguarded engines to discourage government agencies from adopting a safety standard requiring propeller guards. The decision in favor of Brunswick was upheld in the 11 Circuit and the family pushed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case was settled after oral arguments were heard for an estimated $700K but set a new precedent for Brunswick which had not backed down from a prop suit while pursuing the Federal Pre-emption defense.
- 25 May 1993 St. Louis Post-Dispatch “Godfrey Girl Killed in Boating Accident” reports a 7 year old girl, April Harlan, of Godfrey was killed about 7:20 pm Sunday May 23rd near Foley on a private lake in the Kings Lake area. Her brother fell or dove into the water, her father and another passenger dove in to rescue him during which time she either fell or dove into the water and was struck by the propeller.
- 11 May 1993 per U.S.Coast Guard Docket #10299 (see pages 49-54) on this date, a group of Federal Land Management personnel from the Western United States, including National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service personnel, were holding a meeting at Lake Powell. As part of the activities, they and their spouses toured the lake on a flotilla of houseboats rented from a local concessionaire. While they were generally headquarted in the area near Temple Bar Marina, C. Falvey, the spouse on an NPS employee, was riding on a personal watercraft behind the operator. She fell from the PWC and realized it would be difficult to get back on from in the water, so she swam to the rear of her nearby houseboat. As she approached the ladder, an engine started and she was pulled into the propeller, receiving very serious injuries.
- 11 March 1993 Philadelphia Daily News (PA) “1 Million Award K’Od Jury Verdict in Motorboat Death Reversed” reports a State Superior Court trail against Outboard Marine Corporation for an propeller accident that killed 16 year old Kevin Fitzpatrick on 10 August 1990 while he was swimming at Pat Cong Creek Cover, near Ocean City, N.J. His mother sued the company claiming the motor was defective due to not having a propeller guard. The judge said competent people know they must stay clear of turning blades and propeller guards or shrouds may reduce one risk but create another. “An outboard motor is designed to move a boat through water. It has not been designed to allow motorboats to move among swimmers”, per the judge.
- 16 August 1992 Accident Date – 2 October 2009 News-Press (Fort Myers Florida) “Fort Myers Double Amputee to Compete in Ironman Triathalon” reports Jason Gunter, now 44 and preparing to compete in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, lost his right hand and left leg below the elbow in a 16 August 1992 propeller accident. He drove his 22 foot Aquasport toward the mouth of the Charlotte Harbor about 9:30 am. When the boat reached about 25 mph, the steering wheel pulled so hard to the left that it ejected him. The boat began to circle and he was struck by the prop. He was rescued by a friend nearby and taken 15 miles to the Matlacha Bridge to meet emergency vehicles.
- 3 July 1992 Redding Record Searchlight (CA) “Mercy Trauma Plan is Helping Save Lives” reports on the May 7, 1992 houseboat propeller accident of Stacy Epping. She had been pulled into a Helping Save Lives” reports on the May 7, 1992 houseboat propeller accident of Stacy Epping. She had been pulled into a houseboat propeller on Shasta Lake about 20 minutes prior to her arrival at Redding’s Mercy Medical Center. Without the trauma system, she would have almost certainly died. Her ” legs, stomach and arms were horribly mangled. She would lose one leg on the operating table.” Doctors, surgeons and nurses worked for five hours on her using of 60 pints of blood to save her life.
Other reports indicate she and about 20 students from Oregon State University had rented two houseboats. She was swimming behind one of them and was caught in the propeller. A lawsuit was filed in Shasta County Superior Court claiming the “resort was negligent when it didn’t properly instruct the boat renters on how to operate the boat. The company was also negligent because there was no guard around the propeller.”
- 23 June 1992 Redding Record Searchlight (CA) “Swimmer Loses Leg in Boat Accident” reports Gilbert Silveria, age 24 of Santa Clara, was injured shortly before 6 pm Monday 22 June at the north end of Squaw Creek on Lake Shasta when a houseboat backed into him. He lost his left leg and was cut on his left arm when he was hit several times by the propeller. He was air lifted to Mercy Medical Center in Redding. “A family member started the engine and was jockeying the boat in midchannel to get a better view of a deer on the lake’s shore just as Silveria was attempting to board the boat” per a sheriff’s deputy.
- 23 June 1991 Accident Date – 30 March 2013 Robesonian (North Carolina) “Lumberton High Grad Finds Life After Boating Accident” reports Chad Porter was 15 and part of a water ski show (the Ski Heels stunt team) back on 23 June 1991. He participated in sports and dreamed of being a professional athlete. The Ski Heels performed on Tucker Lake that day. A storm moved in, the team was moving quickly to put away their gear in the boat. Chad and a friend were wading behind the Ski Nautique when it was thrust into reverse at full throttle. He tried to dive under the boat but his legs were sucked into the propeller. A teammate started to pull him from the water, saw the damage to his leg and elected to pull him to a floating dock so spectators would not “see the gory sight”. Blood was spraying two feet in the air. His teammates dove to find his missing left foot. At Duke University Medical Center he was give a 25 percent chance to live. Against great odds, doctors were able to save his right leg. A therapist showed him a video of amputees playing sports. He went on to play many sports and has given several motivational talks.
- 8 June 1991 Accident Date – A man was getting ready to take some boys from his Sunday School bus route for a boat ride on June 8, 1991 on Buhlow Lake in Pineville LA. He dropped then off at the lake while he on the way to his house to pickup his boat. The boys started playing in the water and one of them, Donnie Free,was struck by the propeller of a boat operated by Mr. Lyons. The boy received “extensive lacerations over the back of his left hip, shallower lacerations up his back and under his left arm pit, and lacerations and abrasions on his left thigh.” Per the suit, Sharon A. Southern, et al v. John M. Lyons, et al. Number 97-19. Court of Appeals of Louisiana, 3rd Circuit
97-19 (La.App. 3 Cir. 05/28/97); 696 So. 2d 128; 1997 La. App. LEXIS 1481. May 28, 1997, Decided
- 30 May 1990 Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer (KY) “Woman Sues Outboard Marine” reports Glynis Wever, age 26, is suing OMC for not putting a propeller guard on a 1987 model, 130-horsepower Cobra engine that injured her in June 1989. The suit is in U.S. District Court in Owensboro. She says she suffered “lacerations, disfiguring scars, permanent crippling injuries, pain and loss of employability,” Her leg became caught in the propeller when the boats motor was started to move clear of a barge and was taken to Mercy Hospital.
- 1990 unknown date – 12 April 2012 4-traders “Hanger Orthopedic Group, Inc.: Hanger Patient and Below-knee Amputee Steve Mitchell Dancing His Way to Victory and Inspiring Others Along the Way” reports Steve Mitchell was operating a boat in 1990. A passenger started to fall overboard, he grabbed him, and both fell overboard. Mitchell was struck by the boat propeller on his right knee which was later amputated below the knee. He quickly tried to re-enter his active outdoor lifestyle. Now he uses a custom prosthetic to compete in ballroom dancing. Other reports place the accident on Florida’s Lake Kissimmee