Archive for accident victims

We recently spent some time updating our list of Pontoon Boat Bowriding propeller accidents.

Since our October 2013 update, we have become aware of or identified about 15 more over the bow pontoon boat propeller accidents. They are mostly 2013 and 2014 accidents. Several of the new 2013 accidents come from the recently released 2013 U.S. Coast Guard Boating Accident Report Database (Public BARD).

We felt the need to update our list in the wake of three recent over the bow pontoon boat accidents in 8 days (June 30 – July 7th, 2014), including one here in Oklahoma.

The new updated list is now available from our previous post at Pontoon Boat Bow Riding and Over the Bow Propeller Accidents List. The list has grown to over 150 accidents.

We plan to write a post addressing this issue soon.

Placement of propeller warning on pontoon boat at 2013 Tulsa Boat Show

Placement of propeller warning on pontoon boat at 2013 Tulsa Boat Show

The U.S. Coast Guard requested public comments on an Industrial Economics Incorporated (IEC) report, “Estimating the Benefits of Reducing the Risk of Recreational Boating Accidents: Alternative Sources of Information on Fatalities, Injuries, and Property Damages” by August 27, 2013 in docket #USCG-2013-0437. The report was funded by USCG to investigate how underreporting / under reporting of boating accidents, injuries, fatalities, and property damages in USCG’s Boating Accident Report Database (BARD) might be modified to allow a more accurate estimate of the cost of boating accidents.

We filed our public comments today (August 26th) via and encourage any who have not yet done so to do the same before the deadline (midnight Eastern Time Tuesday night August 27, 2013 as I understand it). We especially encourage boat builders and marine drive manufacturers to file public comments on the report.

Our comments are available at Our Public Comment Letter.

Our comments were pretty long, but we tried to especially draw attention to three major flaws in the report. Read More→

0 Categories : Regulations

Timothy Clippard

Timothy Clippard

Timothy Allen Clippard, 51 of Jackson Missouri, was participating in a bass fishing tournament on Kentucky Lake on Thursday 9 May 2013. About 4:15 pm, he and his partner were on the way back to Moor’s Marina to weigh in their catch. While going north under Eggner’s Ferry Bridge in Marshall County Kentucky, their boat struck a submerged object, the outboard motor flipped up into the boat, and fatally struck Timothy Clippard in the head. Clippard died at the scene. The boat operator was not injured.

Early reports indicate the boat motor struck an underwater part of the bridge made of steel or concrete, broke loose, flipped into the boat, and struck Tim Clippard in the head. However, A Deputy Sheriff that spends a lot of time on Kentucky Lake says the current high waters could have huge trees floating down the river. They may have struck one of them. An investigation is ongoing. Read More→

USCG MH-60 Helicopter

USCG MH-60 Jayhawk Helicopter
USCG image

The U.S. Coast Guard has long touted the downward slope in annual BARD (USCG’s Boating Accident Report Database) fatalities as a measure of improvements brought about by:

  • Regulations
  • Law enforcement presence
  • Boater education
  • Boating safety programs
  • Improvements in boating equipment

USCG reported 1,754 recreational boating fatalities in 1973 (the highest number of fatalities since 1970). Annual fatalities gradually dropped to 821 in 1997. Annual reported fatalities have bounced around a little since 1997, but continued their gradual decline to 672 in 2010.

The Coast Guard and other boating safety organizations were hoping for a continued decline in 2011. They anticipated the safety programs in place, plus the poor economy (fewer people boating) and high price of gas (boating fewer times for shorter durations) would result in a landmark low number. However, 2011 came in at 758 deaths, a total unequaled since 1998. Read More→

The boating industry continues to claim almost all boat propeller accidents are reported in BARD. They base their claims on the United States Coast Guard’s claims that the more serious a boating accident is, the more likely it is to be reported. The industry says propeller injury accidents are very serious and therefore they must almost all be reported.

We continue to find propeller accident after propeller accident that is not listed in USCG’s Boating Accident Report Database (BARD) or not classified as a propeller accident in BARD. Yesterday we identified between 14 and 19 Florida 2010 propeller accidents that are not listed as 2010 propeller accidents in BARD. 14 of those accidents were reported in Florida’s own boating accident statistical report as propeller accidents. We found 4 to 5 more 2010 Florida propeller accidents in news media reports that are not in BARD. And that is not counting a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officer who was seriously injured by a boat propeller on the job (BARD does not count government vessel propeller accidents).

We present the 17 April 2010 pontoon boat propeller accident resulting in the death of Carla Faul in Florida’s Withlacoochee River as an example of a news media reported propeller accident that is not classified as a boat propeller accident in BARD.

USCG Boat Responsibly Logo

USCG Boat Responsibly Logo

Please note USCG quickly responded to our request for assistance in better understanding why these Florida accidents were not listed in 2010 BARD. This particular accident (Faul pontoon boat accident) was not labeled as a propeller accident in BARD because Florida did not report it as a propeller accident. Back in late March 2011 USCG requested additional information from Florida on this accident due it looking like a possible propeller accident. USCG did not receive the information they requested. Before we leap on FWC for not responding, I am sure I have no concept how busy their office is in the Spring and Summer. Government budgetary issues and staffing may have played a part as well. We will continue to follow up on the collection of missing Florida propeller accidents in the future.

Read More→

As mentioned in our previous review of propeller accident reporting in USCG’s BARD 2010 database, 7 of the 10 propeller accidents we found news media reports for that were not listed in BARD occurred in the State of Florida.

That got us wondering if something might be different with their reporting criteria, their boating accident report form, their database, their method of forwarding the accidents to the U.S. Coast Guard, or some other step in the process.

USCG Boat Responsibly Logo

USCG Boat Responsibly Logo

After we wrote this post we requested assistance from USCG Office of Boating Safety and SPIN in determining what happened (should these accidents be in BARD, where did they fall through the cracks?) USCG immediately responded with a detailed analysis of the individual accidents for the group of 7 propeller accidents. The post below was updated to include USCG’s 14 July 2011 and 6 August 2011 responses. We really appreciate their quick and detailed response on the 7 accidents and for sticking with Florida to determine the source of the missing 14 accidents. SPIN is made some inquiries in Florida and we appreciate their help as well. Thanks again to USCG and SPIN for their efforts. Read More→

Brunswick requested a rehearing of the Jacob Brochtrup v. Mercury Marine and Sea Ray propeller injury case before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on June 10, 2011. Mercury Marine and Sea Ray are both divisions of Brunswick.

On page three of Brunswick’s formal request for a rehearing, Brunswick faults Brochtrup for not providing information on the frequency or likelihood of injuries like those he received, no evidence of the number of accidents involving exposed boat propellers, and no proof of the “frequency or likelihood of injuries caused by exposed propellers on boats of this design” (Brunswick claims propeller accidents are rare events).

Then on the top of page 4, Brunswick cites some propeller accident frequency comments made by Peter Chisholm, Mercury Marine Product Safety Manager, during the original trial in U.S. District Court, Texas Western District, Austin Division:

The jury heard no evidence any closer to this subject than the testimony from Peter Chisholm, Mercury Marine’s Product Safety Manager, and that testimony did nothing to help Brochtrup on this point. Chisholm merely agreed that some unspecified number of people are injured by boat propellers each year, but he firmly denied this number was even as large as one hundred.

Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

We mentioned in our earlier post on using wordles to explore propeller safety topics our intention of using wordles to identify common threads in media coverage of propeller accidents. For those not familiar with wordles, they are a form of word art in which the relative size of a word represents its relative frequency in the text being studied. This post is the first of a series exploring the use of wordles to better understand news media coverage of propeller accidents.

As we have looked at thousands of news reports of propeller accidents and their victims, we see common threads in printed and televised news media coverage, especially in the coverage of high profile propeller accidents resulting in critically injuries. News media coverage of a propeller accident typically begins with a news bulletin including the sex and approximate age of the victim, the location of the accident, date and approximate time of the accident, a mention of the propeller being or possibly being involved, and citing officials on the scene. These initial reports also often mention the victim being life flighted by a specific service to a named hospital. Law enforcement officials often mention an investigation is in progress to determine the cause of the accident and may note alcohol or negligence on the behalf of others may have contributed to the accident. Other family members on the scene are sometimes identified by position only (father, mother, brother, uncle) and not by name. The area of their body struck by the propeller is often identified (legs, thigh, arm, torso, etc.). Read More→