Archive for pontoon boat

Aiden Mckitrick and his mom clipped from WFAA video

Aiden Mckitrick and his mom
clipped from WFAA video

Back on May 5, 2016, three year old Aiden McKitrick fell from the front of a pontoon boat and was entrapped on the propeller.
We posted coverage of his accident at that time.

Now (early March 2017) about ten months after Aiden’s accident on Lake Ray Hubbard in Texas, his mother is speaking out with a warning to parents.

WFAA (ABC channel 8 of Dallas, Texas), carried her story in a 2 March 2017 newscast. The news story is accompanied by an emotional video in which she tries to alert others of how her son was nearly killed by pontoon boat propeller.

Aiden’s mother, Kelly Mckitrick, is a nurse and his father is a firefighter. His father helped extract him from the propeller, and his mother has played the role that only a mother can in his recovery.

His mom says, “When they raised the propeller up that’s when my husband saw his intestines hanging out and his leg was mangled.” Read More→

Kaden Frederick cropped from Daily Mail image

Kaden Frederick
cropped from Daily Mail image

9 year-old Kaden Frederick was on the bow of a rented pontoon boat Wednesday afternoon August 17, 2016 near Ocean City, Maryland. The pontoon boat was running about half speed as he dangled his legs over the bow. Three others sat on the bow beside him. We previously covered the accident.

Kaden fell over the boat and was struck by the propeller. Veteran police officials described his injuries as horrific. Kaden later died from his injuries. In response to this accident, a Maryland regulation has since been proposed to specifically ban bow riding / bowriding.

Under the Bridge Watersports rented the pontoon boat out that was involved in the accident. Tyler Barnes owns OC Watersports which operates Under the Bridge Watersports.

Maryland Natural Resources Police have filed several charges against Tyler Barnes and OC Watersports including renting a boat out without the proper equipment, renting a boat without a plate showing the boat’s maximum capacity, failing to keep records for law enforcement agencies, and negligent operation of a vessel.

As to proper equipment they were short two life jackets to have enough for everyone on board, however the boat had a capacity of 15 but there were 17 on board. The negligent operation count has to do with allowing an overloaded boat to leave their dock.

If they were fined the maximum amount on all counts, the fine would be less than $700 per The Dispatch (Ocean City).

A hearing is set for 17 February 2017.


On 20 January 2017 the boat operator was charged in New Jersey’s Worcester County District Court with negligent operation of a boat. The operator has acknowledged he knew 4 people were bow riding in front of the front fence of the pontoon boat. News reports indicate the maximum penalty for such a charge is $500.

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

U.S. Coast Guard emblemIn advance of the October 21-22, 2016 National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) 96th meeting, the U.S. Coast Guard requested public comments on items on the agenda. The announcement was published in the September 26th Federal Register and the public was given 5 days to respond.

One of the topics to be presented at the conference is a talk by Mr. Phil Cappel titled, “Recent Propeller Injuries & Discussion of Potential Mitigation Strategies”. We submitted a comment on this topic. Our comment lists three types of recent accidents and provides economical mitigation strategies for each of them that are not in wide use:

  • Pontoon boat “over the bow” propeller strikes – many are preventable by eliminating the bow forward of the fence OR by making it very uncomfortable to sit forward of the front fence and especially to sit on the bow with your legs dangling over the bow. One mitigation shown uses safety grating as flooring forward of the front fence. It is easy to walk on and very uncomfortable to sit on.
  • Circle of Death bass boat propeller strikes – preventable by the use of foot throttles (boat slows to an idle if ejected without a kill switch lanyard attached). Foot throttles are in wide use on bass boats, but they are not currently being marketed as a propeller safety device.
  • Large outboard motor strikes submerged object, outboard motor breaks off, and flips into the boat propeller strikes – preventable by the use of a tether

Our public comment letter provides additional details and links describing these accidents, provides lengthy lists of accidents of each type, and addition details on the mitigations mentioned above.

0 Categories : Regulations

Pontoon boat propeller accidents tend to pileup in the summer months. But the recent cluster of 6 media reported pontoon boat propeller accidents in 8 days should be a wake up call for change. As always, these are media reports, exact circumstances may not be correct and things may change by issue of actual official boat accident reports, however pontoon boats were involved and people were thought to be struck by the boat or propeller:

  • 30 July 2016 – Natalya Potsurko, 26 year old female, struck off Ocean City Maryland. Standing on bow of a rental pontoon when it hit a wake, she fell overboard and was struck by the propeller in the face and leg. news clip
  • 1 August – Pamela K. Portillo, 53 of Iowa, struck in Stockton Lake in Missouri August 1st. Pontoon boat gate gave way, propeller struck her legs, one since amputated below the knee. news clip
  • 3 August – Jesse Nicholas Cardone, 19, struck in Maine on Long Lake. Boating with his family and another family, fell from front of pontoon boat, boat passed over him, his body was recovered late the next day using sidescan sonar. news clip
  • 6 August – Kevin Theodore Husum, of Florida, struck on Lake Lanier in Georgia. He was throwing a football to another boat, jumped off, ended up under the boat, and struck by the propeller. Authorities are still searching for his body. newsclip
  • 6 August – a boy less than 10 years old struck in Massachusetts. His legs were struck by the propeller of the pontoon boat that took him out on the Beaver Lake to swim. news clip
  • 6 August – Wilmer Ramirez-Escalante, 20 year old male, struck at Isle of Wight Bay in Maryland. Rental pontoon boat ran aground, officers found several people in the water including a man bleeding profusely from an artery in his arm after being struck by the propeller. news clip

Pontoon boat on Keystone Lake in July 2016

Pontoon boat on Keystone Lake near Manford Oklahoma on 2 July 2016

Read More→

Aiden McKitrick cropped from a Facebook image

Aiden McKitrick
cropped from a Facebook image

Aiden McKitrick, a three year old boy, was on a pontoon boat with his father, Austin McKitrick, Thurday evening May 5, 2016 on Lake Ray Hubbard, near Dallas Texas. About 8:30pm they were near the Rush Creek Yacht Club and Aiden was playing near the pontoon boat gate.

The young boy, Aiden McKitrick, fell overboard and was struck by the pontoon boat’s propeller. His father, a Lewisville Texas firefighter, pulled Aiden from the water, and he was taken to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas in critical condition.

The Lewisville Firefighters Association is raising funds on GoFundMe to help Aiden McKitrick’s family with medical expenses. Read More→

Children and adults have been falling off the bow of pontoon boats and being stuck by the propeller for decades. A typical scenario involves children sitting on the bow, outside the fence, with their feet dangling in the water as the boat moves forward. They hit a larger wake or wave and are pulled overboard by their feet, or the boat operator suddenly slows the boat and they rotate over the bow. Either way, they hit the water while the boat is still advancing. The operator quickly pulls the boat to neutral but it is too late. They hear a thud from the child’s body hitting the propeller and the water quickly turns blood red behind the boat.

Pontoon Boat anchor on shore

Pontoon Boat anchored on shore

This post will identify some ways to prevent these accidents. We will not focus on the contributions of rapid access to onsite medical care and quick transit to a major trauma hospital. Read More→

This post is a subpart of our larger coverage of Preventing Pontoon Boat Over the Bow accidents.

Engineering & Design

In our opinion, DESIGN is one of the most overlooked and under utilized tools to prevent pontoon boat over the bow propeller accidents. Traditionally engineers identify hazards then apply the Product Safety Hierarchy to make their products safe. An abbreviated version of the Product Safety Hierarchy is below:

  • Identify hazards
  • Design out hazards if possible
  • Use guards, shields, or barriers to keep people away from hazards that cannot be designed out
  • Use safety interlocks to prevent accidents when hazard cannot be designed out (such as a pontoon boat gate latch switch that prevents starting the boat if the gate is open)
  • Warn of remaining hazards
  • Train and instruct users of remaining hazards
  • Use of protective clothing

For brevity, we will solely focus on the bow riding issue in this section. Read More→

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

We recently spent quite a bit of time updating our May 2013 list of Pontoon Boat Bowriding propeller accidents.

Since creating the list in May 2013, we have become aware of or identified approximately 45 more over the bow pontoon boat propeller accidents.

In addition to adding many new accidents, we also cleaned the list up some and put it in better chronological order.

The new updated list is now available from our previous post at Pontoon Boat Bow Riding and Over the Bow Propeller Accidents List.

Pontoon Boat anchor on shore

Pontoon Boat anchored on shore

Samantha Maywell

Samantha Maywell

Samantha Maywell, 24, known as Mermaid Samantha of Brookswell, Florida was boating with two other Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaids on the Gulf of Mexico about 15 minutes off Hernando Beach on Thursday August 22.

Details are still sketchy, but Samantha (Mermaid Samantha)’s left leg was struck by a boat propeller about 4:30 pm.

All three mermaids were on a pontoon boat. Samantha Maywell fell overboard and her left leg was almost severed by the propeller. The other two mermaids were not injured. Samantha was taken to the shore, then on to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson, Florida where she was in critical condition.

More recent reports indicate they were out after dark on a pontoon boat, the wind and waves came up, and they started to shore. The winds kept them in the channel, another boat drifted toward them, and Samantha went to the stern to push away the drifting boat. A large wave stuck the pontoon, she fell over the stern, and into the propeller. Read More→