In the early 1990’s I started collecting information on very high profile boating accidents, some of them being propeller accidents. When we launched RBBI.com (Recreational Boat Building Industry) in 1996 we moved that coverage to our Accidents & Open Water Rescue Page there, plus began covering other major boating accidents as they were reported in the news.
In the Spring of 2004 we began a more disciplined effort of capturing media coverage of recreational boat propeller accidents and logging them on the Propeller Guard Information Center. We began this process in an effort to get the industry to recognize the magnitude of the problem by putting some names and situations with the accidents. We hoped our coverage would encourage them to address the problem. We also hopped the impact media coverage of these accidents have on local boat sales after a major propeller accident would drive the industry to action.
At first, we logged accidents on our home page, then as the list grew, on 29 October 2005 we moved our propeller accident coverage to a separate page. Later, as the list grew still longer, we began to create pages for individual years and time periods.
We also used to log the media reports as they came in, including updates on accidents that occurred long ago. Now we try to list them close to the time of the accident they are covering, if they are our first report of that accident.
As time permits, we search for earlier propeller accidents and add them to our database. In early 2011 we focused on finding some of the very early recreational boat propeller accidents (pre-1920).
Initially we also covered media reports of manatees, sea turtles and other forms of marine life struck by propellers in this section. Most of those reports have since been moved to another database.
The full text of the actual media reports you see only in abbreviated form in our annual accident media coverage pages are stored in our Propeller Accident Media Coverage Database along with thousands more (often the same accident is covered by many news sources over several days), including videos of the TV accident news reports. We are currently formulating some interesting research projects for that database.
Now, many years later, our listing of media coverage of propeller accidents serves as a tool for those developing propeller injury mitigation devices. Designers can quickly find media reports for several accidents involving the kind of vessels their device is designed for, then mentally think about how their device would have performed in those situations. Yes, their propeller safety devices will still need extensive testing, but it they only protect against a small percentage of the accidents, the designers may elect to go back to the drawing board or to add additional features to their device.
Prior to late 2010 we listed non-fatality propeller accident victims by initials and last names to help respect their privacy. An analysis of search terms used to find our media coverage pages has shown full names are often used, so in late 2010 we started using full names.
In addition to our coverage by year, we also have some special collections of media coverage including high profile propeller accidents, propeller accidents involving skilled professionals, and reports of people hit by propeller guards.
Although we only became aware of them in late May 2012, our accident reports vaguely parallel the Fatalgrams issued by the U.S. Department of Labor sent to organizations and individuals able to influence mining awareness. The U.S. Department of Labor quickly issues brief summaries of mining accidents to raise awareness and try to prevent similar future accidents.
We welcome your comments or additions to our database.