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NBC Channel 4, Washington D.C., aired a series of stories on boat design defects on 16 August 2017.

Ryan Batchelder clipped from NBC Channel 4 image

Ryan Batchelder
clipped from NBC Channel 4 image

The series focuses on:

  1. Two families: (1) family of Ryan Batchelder, 7 year old boy killed by a boat propeller in Georgia in 2014, and (2) family of Niki Bell, struck by a boat propeller in California in 2006 at age 22.
  2. The two accidents, both individuals were washed overboard
  3. The two boat builders involved (Malibu and MasterCraft)
  4. The lack of Federal Regulation of the boating industry
  5. Court documents and comments by experts

NBC4 chose to release the story in a number of segments throughout the day with the tagline, “Small Craft Advisory” instead of as a free standing documentary.

Small Craft Advisory graphic by NBC4

Small Craft Advisory graphic by NBC4

They did a nice job of interviewing people and supplying several videos to support their findings.
While it likely made a lot of sense if you watched their various news programs dispersed throughout the day, it is challenging to try to recreate that experience from their website, Facebook page, or app.

Therefore we organized links to the various segments below. Read More→

0 Categories : Propeller Safety News

A brief review of the major propeller safety events in 2016 including safety meetings, accidents, legal cases, deaths of those involved in the movement, statistics, patents, articles published, public service announcements, anniversaries, regulations, and other related events. Read More→

Categories : Year in Review

Back in 2012 Mark Barhanovich of Biloxi, Mississippi was going out fishing in his boat with a friend just off Biloxi. The Suzuki outboard motor struck a dredge pipe, broke off, flipped into the boat, and killed Mr. Barhanovich, at least partially with the propeller.

Mark Barhanovich's center console fishing boat. Photo from Edward Fritsch expert witness report

Mark Barhanovich’s center console fishing boat.
Photo from Edward Fritsch expert witness report

Mark Barhanovich

Mark Barhanovich

Bean, the dredging firm, previously settled with the Barhanovich family.

Bean brought Suzuki of Japan into the suit in an effort to recapture some of any potential losses. Suzuki moved for summary judgement in U.S. District Court of Southern Mississippi and the case was dismissed.

We covered the Barahanovich accident and case in several previous posts.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard the Barhanovich case in September 2016.

On 4 November 2016, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals filed its opinion. As is sometimes the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals affirms in part (agree with the lower court on some things), and reverses and remand in part (disagree with some of the lower court’s findings and remand the case back to them). Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

Mark Barhanovich

Mark Barhanovich

On September 16, 2012 Mark Barhanovich’s boat struck a dredge pipe off Deer Island, Mississippi, his 225 horsepower Suzuki outboard motor broke off, flipped into the boat, and he was killed by the propeller.

As to what led up to the appeal, see our post titled, Barhanovich case: Suzuki released, Bean appeals

The Expert Reports

A little more information on the expert report in question and its timing is below.

Bean’s expert, Edward Fritsch of ATA Associates, prepared an expert report dated 19 October 2014. At the end of the report, he lists a total of 3 opinions. They were basically, (1) But for failure of the Suzuki outboard swivel bracket, the engine would not have entered the boat and struck Mr. Barhanovich. (2) The extent of fracture of the swivel bracket on the Barhanovich boat is much greater than that of similar brackets failed in the lab and requires evaluation of the properties of the specific bracket on the Barhanovich boat. (3) If Mr. Barhanovich knew a dredge pipe was in the area, he should have been going less than 28 mph.

Suzuki DF225 outboard

Suzuki DF225 outboard

Per Bean, Suzuki did not provide full responses to their discovery til 6 April 2015.

Edward Fritsch, Bean’s expert, filed a supplement (update) to his report on 30 July 2015 said to be based on additional things learned from Suzuki’s disclosure. In this report Mr. Fritsch lists a total of 10 opinions, all of which target Suzuki.

Suzuki basically claimed the first expert report was not relevant because it did not make direct claims against Suzuki.

Suzuki claimed the second report introduced ideas and opinions not in the first report. Per Bean supplemental reports were only to expand on ideas previously discussed, not to introduce new opinions.

Suzuki was thus able to get both reports and Mr. Fritsch’s testimony (deposition) tossed from the case on 16 September 2016, just two weeks before the scheduled trial.

That left Bean holding an empty bag when Suzuki moved for summary judgement.

The judge granted summary judgement to Suzuki and Bean appealed. Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

Numerous previous posts concerned outboard motors striking submerged objects, breaking off, and flipping into boats, preventing or mitigating those accidents, log strike systems, accidents and legal trials involving such accidents and related topics.

We will now be covering this topic in this category of the PropellerSafety blog.

If anyone wonders why we are covering these accidents on PropellerSafety.com, its because outboards that break off and enter the boat typically come in with the engine still running, the propeller at a high RPM, and often result in severe or fatal propeller injuries. Read More→

Boni Blalack Los Angeles Times photo

Boni Blalack
Los Angeles Times photo

On 27 February 2015, the world lost an inspiration to us all, Boni B. Blalack, 83, passed away in Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena California.

Boni Buehler as a stewardess

Boni Buehler as a stewardess
Long Beach Press Telegram

We knew of her life as Boni Buehler, a beautiful young stewardess involved in the highest profile recreational boat propeller accident of all time back in 1953. We covered the accident in a post titled, Boni Buehler – 1953 Boat Propeller Accident. The accident involved many ties to the rich and famous, the legal trial involved one of the most colorful lawyers of all time, Melvin M.. Belli. Mr. Belli introduced many methods now regularly used in accident cases, including the use of expert witnesses and of video taping testimony.

Bonni Buehler press conference image 1

Bonni Buehler press conference image 1
USC Digital Library

But enough of that, Mrs. Blalack is known for her tremendous courage in overcoming the hardships of losing and arm at the shoulder and a leg at the hip in an era long before modern prosthetics. She was told by doctors she would never walk again, never drive again, and never have children. She took to a couple wooden crutches and an arm strap, then showed them all to be wrong. She went on to have a great marriage, three children, run a cosmetics business, and inspire almost everyone she met.

The following quote is from her obituary in the Los Angeles Times:

Boni B. Blalack obituary exerpt
Los Angeles Times
8 March 2015

 
Wherever Boni went she was noticed. She would simply smile at those who stared and go happily on her way. Most realized they had witnessed something and someone special, and if they were fortunate they met her and became a friend. Those she did meet were in awe of her and inspired by not only her rare courage but also by her generous and kindhearted nature. She reshaped perceptions about the unlimited potential that exists in everyone and during an age when a double amputee, without prosthetics, might have chosen to shy away from a public life, she ignored conventional thought and taught everyone the value of strength of character, a positive attitude, and the power of compassion and kindness.

We encourage all to learn from Boni Blalack’s example. When we face hard things in life, let us remember how she overcame tremendous challenges with courage and determination. May we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and do the same.

Boni Buehler arriving by airplane

Boni Buehler arriving by airplane
USC Digital Library

We apologize for not eulogizing this great lady earlier. We only learned of her death today (12 July 2016).


0 Categories : Memorials

Mark Barhanovich

Mark Barhanovich

The fatal propeller accident in which Mark Barhanovich’s boat allegedly struck a dredge pipe and the Suzuki outboard motor broke off, flipped into the boat and struck him with the propeller has resulted in perhaps the most complicated propeller accident case ever with no end in sight.

Mr. Barhanovich was a cherished, well known citizen of Biloxi Mississippi with a young family when the accident occurred off Deer Island Mississippi in September 2012.

Recently Suzuki was released from the case, but Bean quickly appealed and the case is now in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

Outboard broke off and flipped into Michael Moreno's boat. Image via Bass Angler magazine.

Outboard broke off and flipped into Michael Moreno’s Ranger bass boat. Image via Bass Angler magazine.

Back on 29 September 2011, Mike Moreno, a professional bass angler, and his stepson, Jared Mitchell were prefishing the California Bass Federation State Championship tournament

The were rolling along in a Ranger bass boat powered by a 250 horsepower Mercury outboard motor.

About 8 am they struck a dredge pipe on the San Joaquin River Delta. The Mercury outboard motor broke off, flipped up into the boat, and landed between the consoles with the engine still running. Both men sustained major injuries. Mike Moreno was pinned down by the motor. Jared was cut by the propeller. This quick account of the accident was gleaned from Things can happen beyond your control. Bass Angler magazine. 18 October 2011.

The Moreno’s filed a case 12 October 2012 in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Sacramento, Case #34-2012-00133702 focusing on the dredging operation being insufficiently marked / lack of warnings. That case also named the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as defendants. With the federal agencies named as defendants, on 8 April 2013 the case was moved to Federal Court:

Michael Moreno, Deanna Moreno (spouse of Michael Moreno), Jared Mitchell
vs.
Ross Island Sand & Gravel, Costa County, Sacramento County, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

United States District Court
Eastern District of California
Case # 2:13-cv-00691-KJM-KJN Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

WVEC image of a man's arm entrapped in DuoProp as example of how Angelopolous' legs were entrapped

WVEC image of a man’s arm entrapped in DuoProp as example of how Angelopolous’ legs were entrapped

A young girl, by the last name of Angelopoulos, then 12 or 13, was entrapped in Volvo DuoProp stern drive propeller on 30 June 2011 in Chesapeake Bay near Lynnhaven Pier in Virginina Beach. The vessel was a 24 foot 2000 Grady-White Sailfish. The young girl was reboarding the boat after tubing. It took about an hour and a half for rescuers to extricate the girl and the propeller from the boat. We covered the accident back when it happened at Virginia Beach Propeller Accident Impales Girl’s Leg.

The rescue involved a total of 71 people who were recognized in a proclamation.

The young girl’s father, Konstantinos N. Angelopoulos, filed a $30 million suit in Norfolk Circuit Court (Virginia) naming the boat operator, Grady-White, Norfolk Marine Company (boat dealer), and Volvo Penta of the America’s as defendants. An amended complaint was filed on 11 July 2014.

UPDATE – A settlement has been reached in the case. The Court is scheduled to review and approve it at 2pm 8 February 2016 per the Norfolk Circuit Court’s schedule.

Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

A brief review of the major propeller safety events in 2015 including safety meetings, accidents, legal cases, deaths of those involved in the movement, statistics, patents, articles published, public service announcements, anniversaries, regulations, and other related events.

Read More→

0 Categories : Year in Review