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Derek Hebert was on a Champion center console boat being operated by Daniel Vamvoras on 7 May 2005. They were between the Calcasieu River and Lake Charles County Club. The steering system failed and the boat began to spin (the Circle of Death). Derek Hebert was ejected, struck 19 times by the propeller, and died from his wounds.

While the boating industry sees this as a steering system failure case, it is obviously a Circle of Death case. The hydraulic steering system had a leak, the steering system failed, the outboard swung to one side, the boat went into a “spin”, Derek Hebert was ejected, and fatally struck by the propeller.

Note – while we call this a Circle of Death accident, we do not know if the operator was ejected, incapacitated, or away from the controls. It really did not matter, because the steering system did not work. The natural tendency of the boat to go into the Circle of Death took over. The operator or someone else on board would have to throttle back or kill the engine, or the boat collide with something to stop its forward progress.

Another boat collided with the Vamvoras boat after Derek Hebert had been ejected.

The U.S. Coast Guard Boating Accident Report Database (BARD) says the vessel Hebert was ejected from was a 1998, 21 foot Champion Bay Champ 21 powered by a 225 horsepower outboard motor with 7 on board.

Champion 21 foot bay boat, 1998

Champion 21 foot bay boat, 1998. This is not the boat in the accident, it is a similar boat once offered for sale by Rabeaux’s Auto Sales


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0 Categories : Legal Shorts

Victor Sanchez

Victor Sanchez

Seattle Mariner’s pitching prospect, Victor Sanchez, age 20, was struck in the head by a boat propeller on Friday February 13th 2015 in Venezuela.

UPDATE – Victor Sanchez remained in a coma after the accident and died 42 days later on Saturday 27 March 2015. – UPDATE
 

Last year Victor Sanchez played for the AA league Jackson Generals. He pitched for three years in the Seattle farm leagues.

Sanchez was struck by the boat propeller while he was swimming on the northern coast of Venezuela near Carupano.

Details are sketchy and most primary sources are in other languages. However, it is known that he suffered one of more skull fractures and swelling of the brain. Most recent reports are that he is still unconscious but has shown some movement of his hands and feet. The swelling of his brain is said to have since caused a stroke.

Sanchez is in critical condition in Polyclinic of Carupano. Specialists were said to be in transit from Caracas to treat him and he may be transferred to Caracas. Read More→

Three men in a small boat were about a mile and a half off Haulover Inlet / Haulover Marina (Florida) to snorkel October 17, 2014. Two of the men were in the water snorkeling in the early afternoon. At least one of the three men saw and approaching boat and urged those in the water to swim back to the vessel. One man was a little further away and did not make it back. He was struck by the propeller(s) of the passing speedboat.

The injured man has not yet been publicly identified, nor has his condition after being taken from the scene.

Update The injured snorkeler has since filed a lawsuit against the vessel

The snorkelers were in a small boat powered by a 200 horsepower Yamaha outboard.

The accident is capturing the attention of the press due to the boat that struck the snorkeler, a gold colored Midnight Express powered by 5 large horsepower outboards that appear to be Mercury Marine Verado outboards. The outboards are custom colored to match the boat, making quite an impression as seen below.

Midnight Express boat involved in accident

Midnight Express boat involved in accident
photo from Local 10 News video.

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Social Media posts, photographs, and videos from Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube, and others are becoming increasingly important in accident cases (auto accidents, workplace accidents, etc.).

This post will focus more specifically on the legal aspects of sharing and social network Social Media with respect to boat propeller accidents, and more specifically the legal aspects of social media with respect to the boat propeller accident involving DJ Laz. In addition to the many Social Media sites mentioned above, online boating forums represent yet another type of social media as well. Boating forums play such a large role they will be discussed separately in a future post.

Quad Yamaha 350's behind DJ Laz's boat

Quad Yamaha 350’s behind DJ Laz’s boat

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0 Categories : Legal Shorts

We updated the spreadsheet on our Outboard Motor Struck Submerged Object and Flipped Into Boat page today (18 November 2013).

The update included eight pre 1994 accidents we encountered since our last update. We put a “NEW” in the BARD column to identify them as recent updates.

Our additions included the Elizabeth Ann Gaus (age 3) fatality, the Anna Joe Kunzier fatality, fatality of a 15 year old Lakeville Massachusetts boy, the fatality of an 11 year old Texas boy, the fatality of a Texas adult male, and the Wayne Mayon fatality.

We also included a list of legal cases arising from these accidents at the bottom of the spreadsheet.

Introduction

The boating industry often cites the dangers of being struck by a propeller guard as a reason for not using them. They claim boat propeller guards exhibit a much larger cross sectional area than an unguarded propeller and as a result those in the water are much more likely to be struck by the prop guard than struck by the propeller. The industry also claims blunt trauma injuries from being struck by a propeller guard are more significant than the “clean cuts” resulting from being struck by an open propeller.

What is Blunt Trauma?

Many of us hear or use the term, blunt trauma, without really understanding what it means. We grow up hearing about people being hit by blunt objects and suffering blunt trauma, but just exactly what blunt trauma is remains a bit nebulous.

When the human body is struck by a blunt object that does not penetrate the body, the body must absorb the blow. That energy can be absorbed by:

  • Partially crushing or crushing part of the body (hitting your thumb with a hammer)
  • Accelerating the body or part of the body (Force = Mass X Acceleration)
  • Secondary impacts (the body crashes into other things after being hit by the blunt object)
  • Drag (such as when the body is struck and moves through water)

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4 Categories : Medical

This post is Part 2. Please view Part 1 first.

Biomechanics

Per Biomechanics of Chest and Abdomen Impact. Chapter 53. David Viano and Albert King. Biomedical Engineering Fundamentals:

“The biomechanical response of the body has three components: (1) inertial resistance by acceleration of body masses, (2) elastic resistance by compression of stiff structures and tissues, (3) viscous resistance by rate-dependent properties of tissues.”

At moderate impact speeds, your body just deforms some to accept the impact OR it deforms enough to buy time until the affected segments of your body begin to move to absorb the load.

At higher impact speeds the ability of the body to deform is limited by its inertial and viscous properties. It can’t deform if it can’t get some of the internal fluids and tissues out of the way fast enough. You can be severely injured before your body can get out of the way.

The ability of an organ to absorb impact energy without failing is called tolerance.

Our bodies are well suited to try to protect our most valuable organs. For example: our brain is surrounded by our skull, our heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys are protected by our backbone and ribcage. Our extremities (arms, hands, legs, feet) are less protected, but more expendable. We can still survive if they are crushed (and we quickly receive the level of trauma care available at many major hospitals). One of my uncle’s had his arm crushed between a dump truck bed and its undercarriage a few years ago. Even though he was trapped for several hours before anyone became aware of his predicament, his arm was saved and he has since been been able to recover much of his previous capabilities. If his chest or head been similarly smashed, he would probably no longer be with us.

Vian and King note chest impacts compress the ribcage causing a tensile strain on the outside of the ribs. As compression increases, so does the risk of rib fractures. They also note that blunt impact of our upper abdomen (just below our rib cage) can compress and injure our liver or spleen before our body begins to accelerate from the force.

Common techniques to minimize blunt trauma injuries are to:

  • Avoid the impact
  • Reduce the impact velocity of the object
  • Reduce the mass of the object
  • Spread the impact energy over the strongest body structures
  • Wear protective equipment or pads
  • Extend the time allowed for deceleration (reduce peak acceleration of your body)

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0 Categories : Medical

Helimed life flight helicopter arrives

Helimed life flight helicopter arrives

We frequently read of people making great efforts and sometimes even risking their own lives to save the lives of boat propeller accident victims. A recent propeller accident re-enactment spurred us into action to recognize the pilots, EMT’s, paramedics, doctors, nurses, bystanders, and others that often come to the rescue. They often represent the difference between life and death for propeller strike victims.

Having read thousands of media reports of boat propeller accident victims, several common rescuer themes come to mind. Among them are the many people springing into action to try to save the lives of the victims by getting them out of danger, trying to stabilize them, transporting them to major medical care facilities, and tending to their wounds. While we do not have space of time to list the thousands of individual selfless efforts to try save those struck by boat propellers, we thought we would try to start to list them by category, then briefly describe one such instance as representative of similar efforts made by many others.

The Rescuers

  • Placing their body between loved ones and an oncoming boat to shield them from the propeller
  • Bystanders quickly calling authorities to report the accident
  • Stopping an unmanned circling boat that might repeatedly strike them
  • Well prepared and trained commercial vessel crews with adequate medical supplies on board tour, dive, snorkel, charter, party vessels
  • Bystanders that pull propeller strike victims from the water
  • Apply tourniquets or pressure to stem blood loss shortly after individuals are pulled from the water
  • On water rescue crews (USCG, RNLI, local water rescue crews, police & fire departments, etc.) including Search and Rescue
  • Getting air to victims entrapped on propellers
  • Removing the propeller when people are entrapped
  • Pulling them from the water
  • Doctors, nurses, and medics along with the group or nearby spring to action
  • Lifeguards
  • Marinas
  • 911 Operators & Dispatchers
  • Local paramedics and EMT’s that respond before life flight services arrives
  • Life flight pilots and crews
  • Surgeons and those who assist them
  • Blood Banks
  • Blood Donors
  • All These Groups Working Together to Save Lives

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0 Categories : Medical

Divers Alert Network (DAN) Europe is known for launching a long running propeller injury awareness program for divers in 2004. That campaign was relaunched in July 2013 for 2013-2014 as “Watch Out! Propellers Can Kill!”

DAN’s new propeller safety campaign focuses on trying to manage the risk of propeller injuries from both sides: from the boater’s point of view and from the diver’s point of view.

DAN Europe notes several divers have been killed or seriously injured by propellers. They believe many diver propeller accidents can be prevented by using good seamanship and divers obeying some basic rules.

The propeller safety campaign includes ten safety rules, five for Boaters and five for Divers.

The #1 rule for both groups has to do with diving flags. Divers are to always place a diver down flag before diving and boaters are to stay 100 meters from a diver down flag.

DAN’s safety campaign is supported by the poster and sticker below which is available in several European languages: Read More→

0 Categories : Propeller Safety News

Medical costs for propeller strike injuries can be astronomical. Many struck are young people without insurance. Others are uninsured or have insurance caps that do not cover costs of these magnitudes, prosthetics, etc. In addition to meeting medical costs, several struck were providing for their families, meeting loan and mortgage payments, and face other pressing financial demands.

Over the years we have seen hundreds of fundraisers for those injured in boating accidents by boat propellers including spaghetti suppers, garage sales, bake sales, raffles, benefit concerts, restaurants donating a portion of their proceeds at an event, motorcycle runs, sales of wrist bands, t-shirt sales, donation boxes, 50/50 raffles, online donation pages, sales of donated items, dances, bar-b-ques, and many more.

More recently, we often quickly see online financial propeller accident fundraising efforts for medical and other costs as well. Friends often setup a page on one of the crowd fundraising sites to raise funds for their loved ones. They try to get follow up news stories of the victim’s recovery to list the URL. Plus they list the fundraising URL on any sites covering the victim’s recovery. We have seen propeller accident victim fundraisers using Fundrazr, YouCaring, and GiveForward. We see propeller accidents in the UK using VirginMoneyGiving. While we have not seen a propeller accident victim using Fundly, I will briefly commercial Fundly as well because the son of a friend of mine co-founded that crowd funding site.

We will be covering some of these events here. Below we will list some of the smaller less publicized events. We will try to create separate posts for some of the larger more publicized events. Read More→

0 Categories : Fundraisers