Being listed on this page does not mean a person has actively been a force for propeller safety, it just means they have and/or are playing a role in this field. Some may consider certain individuals on this list to be an obstruction to propeller safety.

Several people on this list are no longer actively involved. We listed them for their historical contributions or for their involvement in a high profile accident. Those new to the debate will hear many of these names as they begin to study the issue.

Unlike most Who is Who listings, this list is not meant to be a honorary award. It was assembled to help those new to this field quickly get a grasp of the current and historical players.

If you know someone you think should be listed here and is not, or have any other comments about this list, please contact us.

Those interested in the list below, may also be interested in our Aspects of the Debate Surrounding Propeller Safety chart.


Who is Who in the Debate Surrounding Propeller Safety

  • Benda, Brian – biomechanics expert witness for plaintiffs in boat propeller injury cases.
  • Bolden, Stephen R. – author of Motorboat Propeller Injury Accidents. Model Trials. Vol. 41. American Jurisprudence. Mr. Bolden won a propeller case, wrote a large manual on how to win similar cases, then the case was overturned on appeal due to federal preemption. He is now with Fell & Spalding http://www.fellandspalding.com/Bio/StephenBolden.asp
  • Branche-Dorsey, Christine M. – primary author of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) study published in 1993 of 1991-1992 propeller injuries in the U.S.
  • Brochtrup, Jacob – injured party in high profile propeller case in the wings to possibly be retried after a hung jury.
  • Brueckner, Leslie attorney for Washington based Trial Lawyers for Public Justice. She was the leading plaintiff attorney in the the Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine case that brought down federal preemption in late 2002.
  • Buehler, Boni – young stewardess struck in Hollywood California in 1953 in perhaps the highest profile prop accident ever. She is not currently involved in the debate, but listed here as an historical event.
  • Chadwell, Bryan – inventor and promotor of a popular ring propeller guard in the 1980’s based on an earlier patent by W.C. (Bill) Schultz, son of the inventor of the Kort Nozzle.
  • Chamberlain, Colin – Australian inventor of the Environmental Safety Propeller that won ABC TV Australia’s 2009 Invention of the Year and was shown at the 11 February 2010 USCG Accident Mitigation Meeting.
  • Chisolm, Pete – of Mercury Marine, taking over some of Dick Snyder’s duties, and a 2009 member of NBSAC.
  • Crawley, Mark – in New Zealand is an advocate for resort propeller safety. His daughter, Rebecca Louise Stockwell (previously Rebecca Crawley) was a 2007 fatality on her honeymoon in the Fiji Islands.
  • Ebro, Tom – of Aquarisk / Aquatic Risk Management http://www.tomebro.com Has worked several propeller cases for plaintiffs.
  • Decker, Audrey – disfigured 1999 propeller strike victim and subject of the 2009 Decker v. OMC trial.
  • Epping, Stacey – horrifically struck in 1992 on a houseboat outing with some college students on Lake Shasta. She is not currently involved, but listed here as an historical event.
  • George Washington University – conducted the “Recreational Boating Accident Statistical Methodologies” study funded by a USCG grant. The study tested and recommended use of National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) data for accounting for unreported accidents against other alternatives. They found it provided the greatest benefit for the least cost. The study was conducted about 1992. No action has yet been taken.
  • Getz, Capt. James E. – chairman of the 1989 NBSAC Propeller Guard Subcommittee that issued the 1989 report. He went on the become an expert witness for the defendants in several cases. Did some work for Failure Analysis Associates at one time. Past member of NBSAC.
  • Hill, John G. – authored “The Technological Feasibility of Propeller Guarding for Pleasure Planing Craft” 10 February 1987.
  • Hogan, Ben – plaintiff attorney, produced the pontoon boat prop strike film using a stunt man. http://www.hoganandglover.com
  • Hooper, Robert “Bob” – inventor of the Prop Buddy propeller guard, and one of the more colorful personalities on this page. He passed away in 2010.
  • Holterman, Theodore “Ted” – OMC Engineering. Has been a long time expert witness for the industry.
  • Houston, Todd – struck in 1975 at age 14. Now a well known motivational speaker. http://www.toddhouston.com
  • Huelke, Donald F. – blunt trauma expert, best known for his work in the automotive industry. He has also been active at time in the propeller injury field and wrote a letter to the 1989 study. Testifies for the defense.
  • Hurley, Norman – Australian inventor of the RingProp, originally called the Stealth Propeller. RingProp took the company public, but folded in 2006.
  • Irvingde Cruz, Marion – founder of SPIN (Stop Propeller Injuries Now!). Her son, Emilio Cruz, was a 1993 houseboat propeller fatality. http://www.spin-site.org
  • Jackson, Keith – of Maritech Industries, manufacturer of the Swimguard full cage propeller guard, Virtual Lifeline wireless lanyard, Captain’s Mate safe motor start up system, PropStopper ladder interlock, and other safety devices. Maritech is a leader in this field. http://www.powerboatsafety.com
  • Johnson, Donald C. (Don) 0 inventor of LyfGard Propeller Deflector.
  • Keeter, Phil – now with Norman-Spencer’s Marine Insurance Services, he was President of MRAA (Marine Retailers Association of America) in 2010 and a prominent figure in vocalizing the industry outrage against the USCG propeller safety Public Service Announcement (PSA) video, “Don’t Wreck Your Summer.”
  • Kelley, Benjamin “Ben” – then President of Institute for Injury Reduction, a 1980’s group of attorneys promoting use of propeller guards. Co-author of a comprehensive and historical report, “Motorboat Propeller Injuries” with Jon S. Vernick, Johns Hopkins University. Now with BK Product Hazard Consulting at producthazardconsulting.com
  • Kennett, Kelly B. – biomechanical expert for the defense. Previously at Failure Analysis Associates, now at InSciTech.
  • Koop, Shirl – mother of Shirley Kay Brocchini-Jones (a 1995 houseboat propeller fatality) and a propeller safety advocate.
  • Kopytko, Phyllis – she, her husband and guide were all struck. As the lone survivor of the 1994 propeller strike, she acts as the co-director for SPIN.
  • Kress, Tyler A. – biomechanical investigator with part of his phd thesis covering prop guards. Best known for involvement in the SUNY Brunswick-OMC testing videos. Testifies for the defense.
  • Kueny, Don F. – OMC retired chief engineer (1993) and current defense witness.
  • Lewis, Kathryn C. – an Oklahoma teenager fatality injured by a propeller in Georgia in 1993. Her accident resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court challenge of federal pre-emption (before the Sprietsma challenge). Brunswick settled the case at the last moment.
  • Marconi, Alex B. an attorney for Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) in late 1980’s. He is currently with Snell & Wilmer, and represents Mercury Marine on propeller injury related cases.
  • Marmo, Al – USCG author of the 1979 Struck by Propeller study that recommended the use of propeller guards to prevent and mitigate propeller injuries.
  • Martino, John – of PumpJet, long time promoter of pump jets on outboards.
  • Mc Knight, John – previous NMMA Director of Environmental & Safety Compliance.
  • Mendez-Fernandez, Miguel A. – a Redding California plastic surgeon. Worked on several propeller strike victims. Author of a 1998 Annals of Plastic Surgery paper titled “Motorboat propeller injuries” that discussed medical issued of nine people struck by boat propellers. He has spoken out several times for victims and has responded to previous Coast Guard requests for comments.
  • Montgomery, Roy T. – Mercury Marine attorney prior to Joe Pomeroy and member of the 1989 NBSAC Propeller Guard Subcommittee.
  • Morrell, Greg – of Prop Guard Marine, manufacturer of a propeller guard.
  • Motsenbocker, Marvin – listed as inventor of several patents on a propeller brake that activates when people are sensed nearby.
  • Mulligan, Mancil W. – did several propeller guard studies for the Coast Guard with Jeffrey S. Tennant. They surveyed available devices and rated them.
  • O’Sullivan, Jay – defense attorney for OMC. Lead defense attorney in the 2009 Decker v. OMC case.
  • Pitchford, Tom – Director of Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Marine Mammal Pathology Laboratory. Well known for his work in analyzing marine mammal propeller scars.
  • Polson, Gary – of the Propeller Guard Information Center. A propeller safety advocate, mechanical engineer, and webmaster of this site.
  • Pomeroy, Joe – Mercury Marine attorney and major player in their propeller defense efforts. Retired from Mercury Marine in 2008. May still be involved as a consultant.
  • Raps, Gerard – founder of Adventure Marine, a Canadian propeller guard manufacturer. The operation is now ran by his wife, Hilda Raps.
  • Reed, Author M. – Naval Architect, authored the “Feasibility of Propeller Guarding” in July 1987. He testified in 1990 Elliott v. Brunswick that Mercury might be able to develop an appropriate guard for higher speed boats after several years of development followed by some years of testing. That time has long since past.
  • Rowe, Bruce – Director of Marine Services for Forever Resorts, a leading houseboat rental operation. 2009 member of NBSAC.
  • Schultz, William C. (Bill) – co-founder of Marine Propulsion Technologies with Terry Smith. They manufacture thrust enhancers that look like propeller guards, but market them for their performance characteristics. Bill Schultz is the son of the inventor of the Kort Nozzle.
  • Smith, Terrance L. (Terry) – technical guy behind Marine Propulsion Technologies, manufacturer of the MPT Thrustor, a device that looks like a propeller guard, but is marketed for its performance characteristics.
  • Snyder, Richard “Dick” – long time propeller accident expert witness for the industry. Now retired from Mercury Marine, but still active as a expert witness for the defense. One of the leading figures in the long ongoing debate.
  • Sprietsma, Rex – husband of Jeanne Sprietsma, a propeller fatality, and family involved in the landmark Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine case in which the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously eliminated the federal pre-emption defense in propeller cases.
  • Squires, Cindy – NMMA Chief Council of Public Affairs and Director of Regulatory Affairs. She crafts NMMA responses to propeller safety issues.
  • Staerzl, Richard – inventor listed on several Mercury Marine patents for devices detecting people in the water.
  • Steely, Karen – of the Aaron Foundation, a Colorado boating safety advocate. Her son died in a 1996 PWC collision with a ski boat.
  • Suttie, Mark – Director of Environmental Management Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas, a major houseboat rental operation owned by Aramark. He supplied the cost of implementation data used by several in their arguments against USCG houseboat propeller proposed rule USCG-2001-10163.
  • Swift, Aisling – legal reporter for Naples Daily News. Provided the first “almost live” online media coverage of a propeller trial when she blogged the June 2009 Decker v. OMC trial.
  • Taggart, Robert – of Robert Taggart Inc. author of Review of the State of the Art of Swimmer Protection from Outboard Motor Propellers. 16 Feb. 1979.
  • Taylor, Guy Jr.- manufacturer of the Navigator C3-PO propeller guard who has also served as an expert witness for the plaintiff at several trials.
  • Taylor, Robert K. – of Design Research Engineering. Expert witness for the defense in several cases. Left the impression his firm was paid about $60 million to defend manufacturers in propeller cases during the Decker v. OMC cross examination.
  • Tennant, Jeffrey S. – did several propeller guard studies for the Coast Guard with Mancil W. Mulligan. They surveyed available devices and rated them.
  • Thibault, Dr. Lawrence of Biomechanics Inc and the University of Pennsylvania testified as plaintiff’s expert in many cases. Investigated biomechanical issues of propeller guards in 1987. He found guards to be feasible at some speeds. Dr. Thibault was a long time expert witness for propeller accident victims. He passed away in September 2011.
  • Thomas, Jordan – young man struck in 2005 that has since started the Jordan Thomas Foundation to help children receive prosthetics they could not otherwise afford.
  • Townsend, Robert – of Robert Townsend & Associates – lobbied for propeller safety and founded SAFER Boating (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Recreational Boating). We do not see anything from him online since about 2007.
  • Unknown – a few propeller safety activists prefer to remain below the radar.
  • Vernick, Jon S. – of Jon S. Vernick and Associates. Primary author of Motorboat Propeller Injuries in conjunction with John Hopkins University Injury Prevention Center and the Institute for Injury Reduction published in 1992. Later co-authored a 1994 Wisconsin prop injuries study.
  • Viggiano, Anthony – inventor of the Autotether, a wireless lanyard.
  • Warren, Robert A. – of Expertise, Inc. has worked several propeller cases for plaintiffs.
  • Watts, Mikal – lead attorney for Audrey Decker in the June 2009 Decker v. OMC trial. They used the Crashworthiness Doctrine approach.
  • Wood, James L. Wood – of Lumatrex, known for his work in analyzing marine mammal propeller scars.

Organizations and Their People (related to Propeller Safety Issues)

  • ABYC – (American Boat & Yacht Council) the industry’s standards organization
    • Adey, John – Technical Department Director
    • Koepper, Helen – announces the propeller safety meetings and distributes the minutes
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  • BoatUS – Boater advocacy group made up several hundred thousand boaters. They promote savings, representation, and service. BoatUS’s products division is now owned by West Marine.
    • Dickinson, Elaine – has written on the propeller safety issue from both sides (viewpoints)
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  • CED Investigative Technologies – contractor being used by USCG in developing a protocol to test propeller guards.
  • CRESE (Center for Research and Education in Special Environments) at State Univerisity of New York at Buffalo. Where the 1990 prop guard tank tests were ran and where the 2010 tank tests were ran.
  • HIA – (Houseboat Industry Association) composed of houseboat manufacturers and those selling products and services to that industry. They have strongly resisted the use of propeller guards and other propeller safety devices.
  • NASBLA – (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators) a nonprofit organization developing public policy for recreational boating safety. They represent the recreational boating authorities of all 50 states.
    • Moore, Capt. Richard – 2009 President
    • Graybeal, Chief James – 2010 President
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  • NBSAC – (National Boating Safety Advisory Council) to the U.S. Coast Guard. They consult with USCG on prescribing federal regulations and other major boating safety matters. NBSAC has 21 members. The council is composed of 7 state officials responsible for boating safety programs, 7 representatives from the boating industry, and 7 members from the general public. They meet twice a year.
    • Ludwig, Jeff of USCG – Executive Secretary
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  • NMMA – (National Marine Manufacturers Association) an industry trade organization composed of marine manufacturers working on common issues. They have strongly resisted propeller safety devices in the past.)
    • Squires, Cindy – Chief Council of Public Affairs and Director of Regulatory Affairs
    • BIRMC (Boating Industry Risk Management Council) an NMMA subcommittee. They are supposed to be working on a propeller warning label for placement on motorboats. The group appears to be primarily composed of legal representatives focused on limiting the industry’s exposure. BIRMC keeps a very low profile.
    • Tom Marhevko NMMA VP of Engineering Standards – and BIRMC Secretary
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  • Propeller Guard Information Center (PGIC) is a leading supplier of technical information on propeller safety issues. Please see Our mission statement for a more thorough description of our purpose.
    • Gary Polson – President, mechanical engineer, webmaster.
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  • Save the Manatee Club
    • Rose, Patrick (Pat) – Executive Director
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  • SPIN (Stop Propeller Injuries Now!) http://www.spin-site.org
    • Marion Irving de Cruz – founder of SPIN. Her son, Emilio Cruz, was a 1993 houseboat propeller fatality.
    • Kopytko, Phyllis – she, her husband and guide were all struck. As the lone survivor of a 1994 propeller strike, she functions as the co-director for SPIN.
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  • U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety
    • Tomczuk, Susan M. – replaced Bruce Schmidt as keeper of BARD accident statistics in 2007
    • Blackman, Richard (Dick) – took over Dan McCormick’s propeller safety responsibilities in 2007
    • Hoedt, Jeff – Office of Boating Safety Chief
    • Cappel, Phil – Recreational Boating Product Assurance Branch Chief (he has been active in many USCG propeller guard discussions, programs, etc)
    • Schmidt, Bruce – long term keeper of BARD accident statistics. He left in in 2007
    • Mc Cormick, Daniel R. “Dan” – associated with propeller guard issues for a short period prior to Richard Blackman – reassigned in 2007
    • Marmo, Al – author of the 1979, Struck by Propeller study, former Chief of the Office of Boating Safety Program Management Division, no longer with USCG Office of Boating Safety
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