Snorkeler Struck by Midnight Express boat propeller: Florida

Three men in a small boat were about a mile and a half off Haulover Inlet / Haulover Marina (Florida) to snorkel October 17, 2014. Two of the men were in the water snorkeling in the early afternoon. At least one of the three men saw and approaching boat and urged those in the water to swim back to the vessel. One man was a little further away and did not make it back. He was struck by the propeller(s) of the passing speedboat.

The injured man has not yet been publicly identified, nor has his condition after being taken from the scene.

Update The injured snorkeler has since filed a lawsuit against the vessel

The snorkelers were in a small boat powered by a 200 horsepower Yamaha outboard.

The accident is capturing the attention of the press due to the boat that struck the snorkeler, a gold colored Midnight Express powered by 5 large horsepower outboards that appear to be Mercury Marine Verado outboards. The outboards are custom colored to match the boat, making quite an impression as seen below.

Midnight Express boat involved in accident

Midnight Express boat involved in accident
photo from Local 10 News video.


Midnight Express with quint Verado outboards

Midnight Express boat with quint Mercury Marine Verado outboards
photo from South Florida 6 video

Three people were onboard the gold Midnight Express boat making its way back from Bimini.

The critically injured man was life flighted to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Preliminary investigations indicate the snorkelers had their dive flag up, and alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the accident.

Parents of the man driving the speedboat arrived with a lawyer and left the scene with their son. There is conflicting information about whether the speedboat operator made a statement to FWC investigators or not.

FWC is asking witnesses to come forward if they saw the accident.

6 South Florida (NBC Miami) filed a video report:

A review of Midnight Express’ web site indicates they normally stop at quad Verados, but we recalled seeing at least one quint before. Additional searching turned up a vessel called Midnight Madness shown at the Miami Boat Show a few years back.

Some further searching turned up some photos of a vessel that looks like the one involved in the accident. Posted in early October 2014, they hint the vessel was probably just delivered in late September or early October. That vessel’s name is “The Golden Rule”, a 43 foot Open Midnight Express powered by five 300 horsepower Mercury Marine Verado outboard motors. We suspect it is the boat involved in this accident but have NOT confirmed it. Below is a Mercury Marine tweet dated 7 October 2014 featuring one of the images we were able to find.

Midnight Express boat, The Golden Rule, Mercury Marine tweet.

Midnight Express boat, The Golden Rule, Mercury Marine tweet.

Snorkler Struck by Boat Caught on Film

In 2012, a companion diver caught live video of a snorkeler being struck by a propeller in Egypt. The camera continues to run in the gruesome aftermath of the accident. We captured some stills from the strike and provide a link to the video at Diver Struck by Propeller. Our stills are not gruesome, but the video itself is not for the faint of heart.

Propeller Strike Sequence Image #1

Propeller Strike Sequence Image #1

Historical Comment

As soon as we saw this accident coverage our minds flashed back to the 1980’s when the industry began objecting to the use of propeller guards because they increase the cross sectional forwardly projected area of what is under the boat. They claim the additional cross sectional area of the guard being just a little larger in diameter than the propeller creates an unacceptable hazard. The resulting combination of propeller plus guard is more likely to hit someone that previously might have been missed by a hair.

Incremental Area of a Propeller Guard

Incremental Area of a Propeller Guard

The clip shown at left comes from the industry’s famous 1989 NBSAC Propeller Guard Subcommittee report. (red shading added by us)

We are NOT saying propeller guards should have been on this boat, but we always wonder after one of these how they can hang 4 more outboard motors off the back and that not be an unacceptable hazard due to vastly increasing the cross sectional area of what is in the water. Probably has something to do with counting their money on the way to the bank.

Selling large Verado outboards for something near 20 grand or more each, they seem to have forgotten how objectionable even a little additional cross sectional area was back then.

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