Rex Chambers accident: outboard motor flipped in: Wheeler Lake AL

Rex Chambers

Rex Chambers

Rex Chambers and his fishing partner, Danny Pettus / Daniel Pettus of Madison, Alabama, were participating in the Homeland Security bass fishing tournament on Wheeler Lake, at Decatur Alabama on Saturday May 3, 2014.

The were running in the 50’s (mph) headed toward the main channel, headed to Mallard Creek, when they hit a partially submerged log. They saw it, but without time to react, the outboard motor (a Mercury Marine 250 horsepower outboard) struck the log, broke loose from the transom, and flipped / flew into the boat still running with the prop rotating.

Rex Chambers reports hearing the loud over-revving motor and feeling it hit his back and crush him against the steering wheel and console. His partner was struck in the head by the skeg which then broke off. Rex reports the motor was moving toward and over him. The propeller hit the glove box, Rex’s left leg, and his left shoulder. Seconds later, they both recognized they were not doing well and both began to use their phones to call for help.

Rex reports he and his fishing partner both previously worked in law enforcement and credits those experiences with helping keep them calm and minimizing the effects of shock. Authorities (Marine Police) quickly arrived and took them to a boat ramp. They were taken by ambulance to Decatur General Hospital.

In addition to being a competitive fisherman, Rex Chambers also writes a fishing column. Most of the coverage above comes from his 19 May 2014 column in the Cullman Times titled, Outdoors: A Brush With Death on Lake Wheeler.

Cody Evans Productions filmed the 2014 Homeland Security Bass Fishing Tournament on Wheeler Lake. In a rare move compared to most tournaments, they publicly recognized the accident, perhaps in part due to the boat being in plain sight of the weigh station and announcers platform. The You-Tube video discusses the accident for about 30 seconds beginning at about 10:30 on the tape.

2014 Homeland Security Bass Tournament

2014 Homeland Security Bass Tournament Decatur AL (see 10:30)

Rex Chambers also discussed the boating propeller accident on his Facebook page, Rex Chambers fishing.

His site shows a 2014 Phoenix 920 bass boat with a jackplate and a Mercury 250 horsepower Pro XS motor on it. It talks about the boat being available for sale in October (probably when he swaps out for the 2015 season). We read elsewhere he was running a Phoenix with a Merc, so we suspect that was the boat involved in the accident.

His Facebook page provides two images of the failed swivel plate on the Mercury outboard. The images illustrates a failure quite similar to several others we have seen.

Rex Chambers' boat with outboard motor broke off

Rex Chambers’ boat with outboard motor broke off


Rex Chambers' Mercury Marine outboard broken swivel plate

Rex Chambers’ Mercury Marine outboard broken swivel plate

His column in the Cullman Times, recognized there have been several similar accidents that resulted in fatalities.

We were lucky! It wasn’t our day to die! I’ve always read how fatalities usually happen when this exact same things takes place. It happens more times than it should, but most don’t live to tell the story. Thankfully, we are both still around to tell the tale. Many haven’t been that lucky that this exact same thing has happened to.

He senses they have been given a second chance at life. We wish them well and hope they fully recover and make the most of their opportunity.

Followup Story

In May 2018 Rex posted a video on his Facebook site about how he now runs The Leash, a tether for outboard motors to prevent accidents like his from happening.

How Often Do Outboard Motors Flip Into Boats and Can These Accidents be Prevented?

We have previously covered these topics at:

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