Many in the industry “blow off” propeller injuries, attributing them to alcohol, wildness, and human error. However we have found several instances of highly skilled professionals (members of U.S. Coast Guard, military, fire fighters, rescue workers, police, etc) being involved in propeller strikes, indicating it can happen to anyone. We have briefly listed them below by date and copied portions of news coverage of the accident from our Propeller Accidents Blog. Links to news coverage of some of the accidents below are available from our Propeller Accidents Blog.
If you are aware of any other instances of professionals being struck by a propeller, or involved in propeller strikes, please contact us.
- 25 May 2014 Henry Alvarado, a Texas Parks & Wildlife Game Warden, was off-duty on Lake Sam Rayburn. Somehow, Henry Alvarado was ejected from the boat and critically injured by the propeller. The main artery in his leg was severed. Without the quick action of his fellow game wardens, paramedics say he would most likely have bled to death. He was life flighted to a hospital in Beaumont.
- 3 September 2011 a 42 year old California male was participating in a swimming race from Lanai to Maui Hawaii. About 2:30 pm he was struck by the propeller of an escort boat about half a mile off Lahaina. Officials said he was taken to the hospital with “life threatening injuries”.
- 15 January 2011 an experienced Coast Guard crew on a vessel named Bartender Patrol was headed out over Noosa Bar on patrol Saturday January 15th per the 21 January 2011 The Noosa Journal (Queensland Australia). Bartender Patrol was flipped by a freak wave and a crew member (who was also a State Emergency Service – SES member) caught his ankle in the spinning propeller. Even with a surf lifesaving boat passing by and a very quick rescue, the crew member lost a lot of blood before being taken to Nambour Hospital, and later transferred to Brisbane Hospital.
An Australian Coast Guard website provides the following data on the vessel named Bartender Patrol: 6.85 meter Eagle Ray powered by a 200hp Yamaha four-stroke.
- 10 December 2010 Catherine Carlyle, 49 year old Australian tourist, dove from a Dolphin Watch Ecotour boat at Ruakaka Bay in Queen Charlotte Sound New Zealand. Per the Marlborough Express/stuff 14 December 2010, Ecotours held three safety training meetings in the past six weeks, staff take an extensive first aid course, their executive director spent a day with them three weeks ago to observe procedures for getting in and out of the water, tourists enter the water from a plank off the back after the boat operator finds a safe place, stops the boat, and blows a whistle to signal the boat is safe, then the tour guide at the stern checks the water to make sure the water is safe to enter. Those steps were followed December 10th with guides that had two and five years of experience. Plus two weeks ago, the boat structure was inspected and deemed safe.
- 7 November 2010 Scott Hughes, 20 year old RAF Senior Aircraftman from Felinheli, North Wales UK, was struck and killed by the propeller of “power boat operated by the Military Training Wing, British Forces Cyprus and the Ministry of Defence” in Cyprus while he was swimming. He had been serving in Afghanistan. Hughes was on a “decompression exercise” with his unit. The accident was reported in the 10 November Daily Post (UK).
- 10 October 2010 Luke Evslin of Kauai Hawaii was competing in the Molokai Hoe canoe race ( a major race with approximately 1100 paddlers). He was jumping from an escort boat to the canoe as part of a three man crew exchange to a six man canoe, the escort boat hit a wave, he was ejected and struck by the boat and propeller. They managed to get him back into the escort boat. The ocean was too rough to airlift him from the escort boat, so they had to spend about an hour getting back to Hale O Lono Harbor on Molokai. He was taken to Molokai General Hospital, then life flighted to Maui Memorial Medical Center because the weather was to bad to go to Honolulu. He had wounds to his back, a “knicked” spine, broken pelvis, and bruised kidney.
- 28 August 2010 Billy Giles, a 34 year old Florida wildlife officer (FWC), was patroling the Santa Fe River in his 16 foot boat. A 10 August 30 Miami Herald report says he released the steering wheel to grab his hat that was about to blow off, the boat swerved to the right, he was ejected, the boat began to circle, he “was pulled under and struck by the propeller.” He was was taken to a Gainsville Hospital. The news report says Giles joined FWC in 2001 (9 years on the job).
- 14 February 2010 an Australian Army Cadet, age 19, struck on a training exercise. The cadet was on a training exercise at Burrinjuck Dam in Southwest NSW (New South Wales) northwest of Canberra yesterday. He and another cadet fell overboard. He was struck by the propeller “which cut up his left buttock, thigh, and lower back.” He was treated onsite, then life flighted to Canberra Hospital.
- 14 July 2009 Allyssa Squirrell, age 11, was training as a junior lifeguard with 20 to 25 other junior lifeguards off Huntington Beach, California. They were practicing speed drops in which the boat dropped them off then came back around to pick them up. When it came back around it struck Allyssa. The boat was operated by a 20 year veteran of the program (other reports identified him as a 30 plus year marine safety officer). She died in surgery later the same day. An autopsy confirmed she died from “deep cuts to her back and her left leg.” Officials now say she apparently/probably was struck by the propeller. Los Angeles Times 16 July 2009.
- 17 May 2009 Andy Gee, Minocqua Wisconsin Police Chief, was teaching his 10 year old son how to operate a boat on Lake Minocqua. 22 May 2009 Lakeland Times (Minocqua Wisconsin) “Life Vest is Police Chiefs Life Saver” reports the boy hit the gas a little to fast and the Chief fell over the stern. As he fell in, he tried to avoid the propeller, but it caught him on the arm and chest. His life vest partially protected him from the propeller.
- 4 July 2008 Daniel Anderson, was conducting a rescue as a member of the Carolina Beach Ocean Rescue Team
5 July 2008 Star News Online (Wilmington North Carolina) “Carolina Beach Lifeguard Who Was Hit by Boat Has Leg Surgery” reports Anderson, age 54, was helping a stranded jet skier at Carolina Beach Inlet when when he was hit, “likely by the prop” of a boat with a 25 to 30 foot cabin. When he was struck, he had a bright orange rescue buoy with him and was clearly visible. The Director of the rescue team said he had never seen a lifeguard injured this severely.
- March/Apr 2008 Snorkeler hit by military patrol boat in Cyprus
10 Apr 2008 The Star (South Yorkshire U.K.) “Tragic Delay Costs Holidaymaker’s Life” reports Karl Wood, age 40 of Barnsley, was snorkeling on holiday, in Cyprus near a boat landing at Ladies Beach. He was ran over by a military patrol boat on routine patrol. The boat operator saw him at the last moment and swerved, “but the propeller sliced a deep wound into his leg.” Exact date of the accident was not provided.
- 1 August 2007 North Carolina Camp Counselor struck in the head and killed
2 Aug 2007 ABC 13 (Western North Carolina) “Camp Counselor Dies After Being Struck by Boat” reports an AP news report that Timothy Allison, age 20 from Troy Ohio and a counselor at a Camp Pinewood in Henderson NC, was swimming in Lake Bowen with some teenager campers on Wednesday 1 August. He became separated from the group and was ran over by a ski boat whose operator said he didn’t see him till it was too late. Timothy Allison was struck by the ski boat’s propeller, “suffered head injuries and died almost instantly.” A Go Upstate report indicates the accident happened about 4:15pm, the man driving the ski boat was a lifeguard and jumped in to help, but it was to late. It also points out the ski boat was with the camping group and was carrying some more campers.
- 15 July 2007 United Kingdom lifeboat crewman struck in the head by propeller
7 July 2007 Daily Record (U.K.- accident in Scotland) “Crewman Falls Into Lifeboat Propeller” reports A. McLean, age 19 of Kingohorn, was one of three crewmembers in an inshore lifeboat RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute) group based at Klinghorn. Sunday July 15th the RNLI crew was wearing helmets, protective clothing and life jackets while practicing lifeboat maneuvers in calm seas off Kirkcaldy in Fife. McLean fell overboard “and suffered serious head injuries when he was hit by a propeller”. The crew got him back in the boat, called an ambulance and headed to shore. He was taken to Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline, then moved to Western General. A 17 July report in the Daily Star says “Despite wearing a helmet, the blade sliced through his skull and into his brain.”
- Weekend of 26 May 2007 24 year old male with about four years in the U.S. Coast Guard fell from recreational boat during a boat collision and was killed by propeller
28 May 2007 WDPE 15 (South Carolina) “Father Speaks Out About His Son’s Death in Boating Accident” reports Justin Byrd, age 24, was on a boat hit by another watercraft this past weekend at Galivants Ferry. He fell off the boat and “he was then hit and killed by the propeller.” Justin Byrd had served in the U.S. Coast Guard for about four years. Other reports indicate he was in a 15 foot aluminum boat that was hit by a 19 foot bass boat.
- 25 April 2007 Australian Coast Guard emergency worker struck in leg during rescue drills
8 May 2007 The Cairns Post (Australia) “Probe After Water Drills Turns Into Emergency” reports the Australian Coast Guard was conducting a rescue drill off Cairns early on April 25th (Anzac Day) when an emergency worker’s leg was struck by the propeller of an Australian Coast Guard boat. The man was in the water during an exercise involving a helicopter rescue crew and was underwater at the time he was struck. He was treated on the boat by a paramedic that had also been in the water with him, winched up to the helicopter and flown to a nearby hospital. “He’s got a fairly traumatic leg injury” but is expected to make a full recovery.
- 17 April 2007 Australian 17 year old olympic hopeful girl struck by propeller of a “water safety craft” during on open water swim meet
17 Apr 2007 Newswire.co.nz (New Zealand) “Youngster Recovering After Propeller Accident” reports Brooke Fletcher a 17 year old Australian swimmer from Queensland hoping to compete in the upcoming Olympics was struck by the propeller of a “water safety craft” while swimming in open water south of Perth today. When was leading a group of five swimmers in a meet and rounding a marker buoy signaling the 2.5 km mark of a 10 km swim race in Matilda Bay, she was struck by a propeller in the back and taken to a local hospital.
- 25 March 2007 U.S. Coast Guardsman killed by propeller on security patrol near Seattle
27 March 2007 KOIN6 News (Seattle WA) “Coast Guardsman Killed by Boat Propeller” reports Ronald Gill, Petty Officer 3rd Class of Anchorage Alaska, assigned to the Marine Safety and Security Team of Anchorage was involved in security patrols and training when he fell from a 25 foot fast response boat in Puget Sound near Vashon Island on Sunday afternoon 25 March. He hit his head on the boat’s propeller which caused “skull fractures, cerebral lacerations and cerebral contusions” and was declared dead at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center. Another report in the Navy Times on March 26th indicates the accident happened about 2:15 pm Sunday. The vessel was a 25 foot Defender-class boat, powered by two 225 HP Honda engines, capable of doing 45 knots. Still other reports indicate he was pulled from the water within one minute and taken to Fauntleroy ferry terminal, then rushed to Harborview Medical Center. One report indicates his boat made a sharp turn at the time of the accident, another says they are not sure if he was wearing the helmet and life vest normally worn at these times, another says the investigation could take months, another says this was the last day of his training mission.
- 11 Dec 2005 UK Man Overboard Drills result in prop strike.
12 Dec 2005 South Wales Echo (Cardiff Wales) “Diver is Injured in Bay” reports a member of the Cardiff Diving Club was Diving in Harbor Three of Cardiff Marina just after noon yesterday (11 December). He fell overboard and caught his feet in the boat’s propeller. A CoastGuard spokesman said they called paramedics because his injuries were so serious. He was taken to a hospital in Cardiff.
BSAC Diving for Divers later reported this accident as #06/032. A RHIB being used in a boat handling course during man overboard drills. The boat turned sharply in rough water and ejected a passenger (a trainee) who was then suffered deep propeller cuts in his left foot and up to his knee, and broken bones in his right foot. His neoprene drysuit seemingly reduced his injuries.
- 3 Oct 2005 Boat Rental firm employee struck and killed
5 Oct 2005 KUTV (Channel 2, Salt Lake City) “Montana Woman Dies In Accident At Lake Powell” reports S. Rozon, a 60 year old lady from Manhattan, Montana, fell from the rear of a houseboat onto the propeller at Lake Powell Monday 3 Oct. and died later after being airlifted to a hospital in Grand Junction Colorado. She slipped while helping anchor the houseboat as she moved from a small boat behind the houseboat in strong winds. (we understand this lady to have been an employee of the houseboat rental company, Aaramark).
- 6 June 2005 Fire Dept training kills volunteer
7 June 2005 “L.o.d.d.” (Line of Duty Death) Firehouse.com Forums. reports James Ratcliff, age 22 (other reports place his age at 20 or 21), of the Hudson Volunteer Fire Department just northwest of Montreal was killed in a training accident at Lake of the Two Mountains June 6th when he fell from the fire department’s motor boat and struck his head “which may have struck the boat’s propeller”. Other reports indicate he was ejected in a tight turn and that he was in fact struck by the propeller.
- 22 July 2004 diving instructor loses leg
23 July 2004 CDNN (Cyber Diver) “Instructor Loses Leg, Student Almost Loses Arm After Captain Andy’s ‘Spirit of Kauai’ Runs Over Scuba Divers” reports from Lihue, Kuaai Hawaii that a local dive instructor and a first time diver from Arizona were injured by propellers yesterday (Tuesday afternoon 22 July) while making a shallow diver in a bay near the west end of Na Pali Coast. The first time diver was having trouble with his bouyancy compensator and had drifted up to near the surface. The instructor went up to help him (neither of them breaking the surface). The instructor saw the oncoming boat and tried to push the student down. The boat that struck them rushed them to a nearby cruise ship, Pride of Aloha, where they were treated by the ship’s doctore, then flown by a Naval helicopter to Lihue where the instructors leg was amputated above the knee. The student’s arm was severely lacerated, but he has feeling in his right hand and can move his fingers. The student’s son was also diving with them at the time. They were taken to Wilcox Memorial Hospital.
- April 2004 Oyster Farm accident
7 July 2006 AAP (Australian Associated Press) “SA: Oyster Farm Fined Over Injury to Worker” reports from Adelaide that Southern Cross Marine Culture, a South Australian oyster farm on the state’s west coast, has been fined after a worker was injured by a propeller. At Denial Bay in April 2004, a 30 year old worker fell from an oyster punt used to ferry baskets of oysters to the farm from shore.He was struck by the propeller and “suffered six fractures to his face, including to his jaw and skull, up to five broken ribs, a punctured lung and spinal injuries” and later diagnosed with with post traumatic stress disorder.
- 30 Oct 2003 Daily Star (St. Vincent accident) “Sailor is Chopped to Pieces” reports M. McCarthy, a marine engineer celebrating five years in the Royal Navy (U.K.) was diving with other sailors on a private launch. As it came to dock in Kingston on the island of St. Vincent he fell from the boat, was sucked under, struck by the propeller, and killed. The accident was watched by his friends on the destroyer, HMS Manchester.
- 9 Dec 2002 Australia
8 July 2003 Herald Sun (Australia) “Oil Rig Raid Death a “Freak Accident””. The Australian Army Special Air Services was running a mock raid on a oil rig in Bass Straight on 9 December 2002. Four inflatable boats, each carrying six divers were traveling about 3 meters apart in a staggered formation. The coxwain of one boat lost control when a diver caught his flipper strap on the tiller when he was entered the water. The driver slipped and fell onto his knees. He looked and saw a man being drug by his leg, the boat then veered to the left and struck another diver. He saw a diver about 10 meters away with a face that “looked like it was mangled”. The supervising officer said in hindsight, “propeller guards should have been used”, however the boat was harder to control with guards. The soldier killed by the propeller was a 33 year old sergeant from Perth.
- 20 Aug 2001 camp counselor struck
21 August 2001 Scottish Daily Record (U.K.) “Propeller Horror of Mark 22” reports a 22 year old student from Carluke, Lanarkshire, Scotland was injured by a boat propeller while at summer camp in America on 20 August. M. Ure suffered “horrendous leg injuries”, and was dragged under the boat while trying to direct it away from a youngster in the water. Doctors at Hartford Hospital (CT) battled to have his legs last night. Mark, a counselor at Sloan YMCA camp in Lakeville, was teaching a teenager to water ski. The boat, being driven by a lifeguard, reversed too close to the teenager and Mark tried to direct it away from him. “His legs were dragged into the powerful propellers before they could be shut down. His kneecaps were shattered by the impact, the skin was torn from both legs and one foot was almost completely cut off.” Surgeons have already removed two toes from one foot, he faces months of painful skin-graft operations and rehab before they will know if he will ever be able to walk again.
- May 2001 Accident in the UK
February 2002 MAIB Safety Digest “Case 19 Be Prepared” (pg. 42) reports a May 2001 Morayshire club
accident that occurred at a RYA (Royal Yachting Association) training activity. In the late morning two RIBS were to demonstrate how one boat can peel off the other when running side by side at speed (about 15 knots). Just as one boat peeled off, one them suffered a drive failure. The disabled boat rapidly slowed, then took the wake of the other boat. At this time, one of the trainees was thrown overboard and struck by the propeller of the disabled RIB, injuring his left hand. When the wake hit, another trainee was thrown into the “centre line driving rack” and injured. When emergency personnel reached the scene, an instructor had also collapsed into a diabetic coma.
- Sept 1998 Olympic sailor struck by propeller and leg was mutilated in Italy while practicing
5 May 2007 India eNews (India) “Entrapreneur Convicted for Mulitlating Olympic Sailor” reports Lars Schmidt Grael, an Olympic sailor, was hit by a boat propeller while practicing at Vitoria (Vittoria) in southeast Italy in September 1998. “The boat propeller dilacerated one of the sailor’s legs, which had to be amputated later.” The boat that struck him had crossed over the lines marking the competition area before striking him.
- 14 May 1995 Supervisor of childrens educational trip struck and killed.
15 May 1995 The Times (London UK) “School Secretary Killed Under Barge Propellers” reports Joan Whitehall, age 47, was a supervisor on an educational trip with about 20 children yesterday, May 14th. She fell into Grand Union Canal in Birmingham while the barge was going through a tunnel in reverse. It is thought the barge hit the bank and she “slipped and screamed before being sucked under by the propellers, which trapped her as the boat swept over her. The boat had no safety rail to the rear. The barge was a green narrow boat named Chiltern.
- 11 May 1993 per U.S.Coast Guard Docket #10299 (see pages 49-54) on this date, a group of Federal Land Management personnel from the Western United States, including National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service personnel, were holding a meeting at Lake Powell. As part of the activities, they and their spouses toured the lake on a flotilla of houseboats rented from a local concessionaire. While they were generally headquarted in the area near Temple Bar Marina, C. Falvey, the spouse on an NPS employee, was riding on a personal watercraft behind the operator. She fell from the PWC and realized it would be difficult to get back on from in the water, so she swam to the rear of her nearby houseboat. As she approached the ladder, an engine started and she was pulled into the propeller, receiving very serious injuries.
- 9 December 1992 member of Australia’s Special Air Services regiment was killed
8 July 2003 Herald Sun (Australia) “Oil Rig Raid Death a “Freak Accident””. The Australian Army Special Air Services was running a mock raid on a oil rig in Bass Straight on 9 December 2002. Four inflatable boats, each carrying six divers were traveling about 3 meters apart in a staggered formation. The coxwain of one boat lost control when a diver caught his flipper strap on the tiller when he was entered the water. The driver slipped and fell onto his knees. He looked and saw a man being drug by his leg, the boat then veered to the left and struck another diver. He saw a diver about 10 meters away with a face that “looked like it was mangled”. The soldier killed by the propeller was a 33 year old sergeant from Perth.
- 20 Aug 1989 accident – The Marchioness, a passenger launch, was hit by a dredger, the Bowbelle, in the Thames River. The Marchioness sank, and 51 lives were lost. A at least one person was injured by propellers during rescue efforts. J. Jackie, a 62 year old woman employed on the Marchioness as a tarot card reader, was trapped by a table lying on her clothes. She eventually escaped through a hole in the Marchioness. She saw a police launch coming, the boat hit her in the face. “I rolled under the boat and my leg got chopped up in the propeller.” She told police they probably hit others as well.
- Unknown Date – UK accident – two boys were taking sailing training with a safety boat about 50 meters in front of them with Royal Yachting Association (RYA) handlers on board. Then one boy fell into the water and the sailboat was still upright. The boy remaining onboard was having trouble pulling up the boy that fell in, in part because his safety harness was catching on the hull. The crew on the safety boat decided to help. They put their boat in neutral. The helmsman was moving across the safety boat to assist, when he slipped and grabbed the throttle which also pulled the safety boat into gear. He immediately pulled the kill switch, but his boat had swung sideways, its propeller struck the boy’s leg and caused serious injuries. The boy was taken to a nearby hospital where his leg had to be amputated. The accident was written up as Incident Number 8 in a MAIB safety series. Posted online by Sail-World 24 August 2009 along with a list of 4 lessons learned (lessons posted 23 August 2009).