PropellerSafety.com

Archive for Propeller Accident Statistics

Its been about two years since we updated the List of Over the Bow Pontoon Boat Propeller Accidents, many of which result from bow riding / bowriding.

The recent cluster of pontoon boat propeller accidents, 6 media reported accidents in 8 days in late July and early August, followed by the Kaden Frederick fatality, the chaos at Ocean City Maryland following several accidents there, combined with our earlier efforts at trying to prevent these accidents, and a possibility to get some attention focused on this issue caused us to update the list.

The new version is two pages long, includes 198 incidents, some of which included multiple propeller strikes.

Pontoon Boat anchor on shore

Pontoon Boat anchored on shore

We tried to limit the list to only over the bow prop accidents on pontoon boats. There are numerous other ways to get struck by the propeller of a pontoon boat, but this is the leading cause, and the cause that most often involves children. Read More→

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→

USCG 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics cover

USCG 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics

U.S. Coast Guard recently released their annual 2015 recreational boating accident statistics report. Total counts for 2015 BARD reported accidents were 4,158 accidents, 2,613 injuries, and 626 fatalities.

USCG reported 158 propeller accidents, 150 propeller injuries, and 27 propeller fatalities.

We would like to thank USCG for all the efforts they put into this annual statistical report of boating accidents.

We would also like to thank USCG, law enforcement officials, lake patrols, first responders, nurses and physicians, those offering boating safety classes, boat safety equipment check points, safe boaters, state boating law administrators, life jacket loaner program participants, Operation Dry Water, and all others who work tirelessly to drive these annual totals down.

Plus thanks to all the state boating law administrators and all the officers in the field filling out the accident reports, and to the individuals that self reported their accidents.


USCG 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics

USCG 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics

U.S. Coast Guard released their annual recreational boating accident statistics report on Wednesday May 13th, 2015. Total counts for 2014 BARD reported accidents were 4,064 accidents, 2,678 injuries, and 610 fatalities.

USCG reported 153 propeller accidents, 148 propeller injuries, and 22 propeller fatalities.

We would like to thank USCG for all the efforts they put into this annual statistical report of boating accidents.

We would also like to thank USCG, law enforcement officials, lake patrols, first responders, nurses and physicians, those offering boating safety classes, boat safety equipment check points, safe boaters, state boating law administrators, life jacket loaner program participants, Operation Dry Water, and all others who work tirelessly to drive these annual totals down.


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→

Nicholas Milligan's Boat / RIB

Investigators at the 2013 Nicholas Milligan family accident in the U.K.

Manufacturers can be responsible for tracking post sale accidents worldwide such as this very high profile U.K. accident in which two were killed and two were critically injured. Boat builders, marine drive manufacturers, and other boating industry manufacturers have a duty to design, manufacture, and sell safe products. However, it does not end there. A post sale (post-sale) duty to warn of hazards, risks, accidents, incidents discovered after sale exists in some situations. Monitoring post sale risks is often called monitoring post sale performance by the legal community.

We note this post sale monitoring requirement can extend to aftermarket parts and accessory manufacturers as well.

The point of this post is that in order for a manufacture to warn customers of post sale of risks discovered after the sale, the manufacturer must monitor its products in the field, sometimes called post sale or post market surveillance to identify those risks. 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

16 June 2014 UPDATE – According to corrected USCG statistics propeller injuries were actually slightly down. Below we will explain how the error was identified, corrected, and why we kept this post

History of this Post

We created and posted this article on 23 May 2014 based on the then recently released U.S. Coast Guard annual Recreational Boating Statistics for 2013.

Events Leading to Discovering the Error

On June 3, 2014 we forwarded a link to the post to the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety to make sure they were aware of the spike in boat propeller injuries.

The next day, June 4, 2014 USCG responded, said they were concerned about the spike in propeller accidents and they have an ongoing project looking at trends in accidents of various types.

On June 11, 2014, a reporter asked me some questions about current annual boat propeller accident statistics. I read him the 2013 data we had recently posted on our Statistics page and told him I would send him a link to the same data as presented by the Coast Guard.

When I went to the Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety web site and downloaded the 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics report and was looking for the page number to point him to the data, I noticed the data had changed. I quickly checked the copy we had downloaded previously to make sure I had not made an error in transcribing the propeller accident data, the data was definitely different.

I sent the reporter a link to the report and told him I was confused. I did not know which data set was correct, but that I would ask USCG and they would respond, but possibly not by his deadline.

That same day I sent USCG an email saying we noticed the data for the struck by boat and the data for the struck by propeller row had been swapped and asked about the changes in the data.

Monday 16 June 2014 USCG responded and said they had originally mistakenly swapped the two rows of data. The error had been corrected, and an updated version of the report was now available (the same one I “found” on 11 June.

I thanked USCG for explaining what happened and told them I totally understand how easy it would be to swap some data rows in the annual statistics report.

Why we left this post up

This error is emblematic of a much larger problem. We cannot see the data behind the annual recreational boat statistics report. Many states no longer make their data available to the Public version of BARD. We need access to that data for a multitude of reasons and will leave this post up to demonstrate this reason (we cannot confirm data in the annual report).

We posted a copy of Version 2 of USCG’s Table 17 immediately below (the corrected version). We labeled it as Version 2 in red at the top.

U.S. Coast Guard 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics Table 17, version 2 (as captured 11 June 2014)

U.S. Coast Guard 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics Table 17, version 2 (as captured 11 June 2014)

You can see the rows for struck by boat and struck by propeller swapped data compared to the same table in our original post below.

****************************************

Below is our original post

NOTE – the calculations below are based on the WRONG data
(before USCG corrected the error)
************************************************************

The annual 2013 U.S. Coast Guard Boating Statistics report released in May 2014 indicates a 65 percent increase in boat propeller injuries compared to 2012. Boat propeller accidents and fatalities also increased significantly.

2013 USCG recreational boat propeller accident data, as seen in the table below, reports 251 boat propeller accidents resulting in 309 injuries and 24 deaths. Read More→

U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2013 cover

U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2013 cover

U.S. Coast Guard released their annual recreational boating accident statistics report on Wednesday May 14th. The total fatality count for 2013 was 560 deaths, the lowest number of fatalities on record.

USCG reported 251 propeller accidents, 309 propeller injuries, and 24 propeller fatalities. We cover the huge spike in recreational boat propeller accidents, injuries, and fatalities in a separate post.

We would like to thank USCG for all the efforts they put into this annual statistical report of boating accidents.

We would also especially like to thank all the USCG, law enforcement officials, first responders, those offering boating safety classes, boat safety equipment checks, safe boaters, state boating law administrators, and others who helped drive the 2013 death total to a significant all time low (the previous recorded low was 651 deaths in 2012).


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