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Virginia Beach Propeller Accident Impales Girl’s Leg – Alexis Angelopolous

Girl's Leg Trapped in Propeller

Girl's Leg Trapped in Propeller Wavy-TV-10 30 June 2011

A 12 year old girl (later identified as Alexis Angelopolous) was impaled between propellers of a stern drive boat in Chesapeake Bay off Virginia Beach (va beach va) Thursday afternoon 30 June 2011. Firefighters and a police dive instructor report it was one of the most difficult rescues they ever attempted. First responders held her head above water till they could employ some life jackets to help hold her head up. Later rescuers were able to supply her with a snorkel, and later still with a diving mask and a scuba tank. WavyTV10 provided the video above.

The rescue began a couple hundred yards off Ocean Shore Avenue and West Great Neck Road per a 1 July report on HamptonRoads.com. It began in deeper water and rescuers moved the boat to shallow water to make things more stable. Every time the boat rocked in waves the paramedics were in danger and the young girl screamed from pain. After about an hour and a half, they were able to remove the propeller from the boat and free the girl from the propeller.

The boat was a 24 foot Grady White with a cabin powered by outboards. At first it was not plain if they girl was somehow caught between two drives or in a dual prop on one of the drives. Later reports indicate she was caught in a single duoprop / twin propeller drive (her legs were caught in a pair of contra rotating propellers). Several reports mention a rope being wound around the propeller making things more difficult as well.

A 5 July 2011 WVEC report interviews the boat mechanic, John Pritchard, who rushed to help remove the propellers. He said he was only able to turn the props a little bit. He was surprised they were able to get the props off and attributes that to the boat recently being serviced and the parts being greased up. Mr. Pritchard said Alexis had been tubing, the boat operator put the boat in gear, the props grabbed the rope and pulled her into them. He said, “it could happen to any family out boating.” We (PGIC) are sure glad he came running to volunteer his skills. The interview says he had to dive underwater to try to remove the propellers. In his interview, Mr. Pritchard is shown wearing a Mercury shirt. We commend everybody who helped prepare him for his act of service, but we suspect Mercury may wince at his comment, “it could happen to any family out boating.”

Some reports indicate they left the propellers stuck in the girl when they took her to the hospital.

Later reports are now indicating the young girl, Alexis Angelopolous, had been tubing and was trying to re-enter the boat when her thigh became caught on the propeller.

On Monday July 4, 2011, WCEC released her name, said she was suffering from nerve damage in her leg and was going to be moved on Tuesday to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Her mother spoke for her, but not directly on camera. Alexis was previously on the Cape Henry Collegiate School girls basketball team and seems to be in good spirits. Her friends are chiming in on Facebook wishing her well.

On Saturday 23 July, 2011 WAVY-TV 10 reported Alexis Angelopolous / Alexis Angelopoulos / Alexis Angeloplous is starting to get feeling back in her foot and can lift it. She is expected to leave Johns Hopkins University Hospital on Sunday July 24th and return to her home in Virginia Beach after her 30 June accident.

George Yates, a police diving instructor involved in the rescue, reports he plans to add some training about how to free people from propellers after the experiences gained in today’s rescue.

Tuesday evening August 9, 2011, Virginia Beach city leaders honored those who participated in Alexis’ rescue. Seventy one rescue workers were honored by the mayor per a report on Wavy.com. Alexis was said to not yet be ready for public attention and did not attend.

The mayor also issued a proclamation recognizing and honoring those who helped in her rescue and proclaimed August 9th now and forever as Emergency Response Team Recognition Day.


While rescuers art Virginia Beach say they have not faced similar challenges in decades, we have noted several other instances of propeller entrapment /propeller entanglement / propeller entangled rescues elsewhere in the news including, “Man Injured in Boat Accident on Lake Susan”. KARE11 (Minneapolis – St. Paul Minnesota). June 12, 2007. The report includes an actual video of rescuers moving the boat and paramedics trying to extricate the 21 year old male impaled on the prop. Rescuers similarly had to move the boat to shallow water and try to keep the victims head above water.

We have collected a list of many other similar entrapped propeller accidents and placed them at Entrapped by a Boat Propeller.

So while this type of event (extricating people from boat propellers) may be rare at single locations such as Virginia Beach, rescue professionals, paramedics, and marine mechanics do encounter them from time to time around the world.


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