Marion Irving deCruz (SPIN) recognized by U.S. Coast Guard

Marion Irving deCruz, longtime proponent of boat propeller safety was recently recognized for her decades of dedication to boat propeller safety.

Marion founded Stop Propeller Injuries Now (SPIN) in the wake of the death of her son, Emilio Cruz in a 1993 houseboat propeller accident.

Her tireless work and efforts have made the waters safer for all.

In November 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) passed a resolution encouraging the U.S. Coast Guard to honor her efforts.

Marion was presented the USCG Public Service Commendation award on February 19, 2016 at Morrow Bay, California.

Marion Irving deCruz receiving USCG Public Service Commendation

Marion Irving deCruz receiving USCG Public Service Commendation

Since the early days of SPIN, many people have stepped in to help for a time, one who stayed by her side for the long haul was Phyllis Kopytko, herself a propeller strike victim. Together they marshaled the efforts of SPIN from opposite sides of the country and recruited many to help in the cause. Phyllis attended the presentation ceremony with Marion and is seen to the left of Marion in the photo below.

Phyllis Kopytko with Marion Irving deCruz at USCG Award Ceremony

Phyllis Kopytko with Marion Irving deCruz at USCG Award Ceremony

A video of the ceremony was captured.

Our Comments

A huge congratulations to Marion, known by many as Emilio’s Mom, for all her efforts for boat propeller safety.

In the early days I gathered information supporting the concept of using sensors to detect people near propellers and automatically take protective actions (later known as Virtual Propeller Guards). To me this seemed like an obvious solution to the problems the industry continuously raised about propeller guards. When my collection of data and technical papers reached critical mass, I just knew the industry would take note and the problem would be solved. However, I learned what Marion and many after her have learned, it’s not easy to bring about change.

While sulking in the lack of acceptance of my “solution” I discovered SPIN. After a while I thought, heck if she can do it so can I. I will start an online campaign promoting the technologies behind virtual propeller guards, the boating industry will rapidly jump on board, and the problem will be solved.

Again, like Marion, I learned change is hard and slow. And I began to learn what Marion had learned earlier, the problem is not as simple as it sounds. There are countless types of boats, uses of boats, and types of waters those vessels are used upon resulting in several individual niches with almost countless stakeholders involved. Marion is and was greatly skilled in bringing all those people to the table. While action was slow, without her the discussions would have never taken place.

I thank her for her inspiration, for being a great example, and for her unwavering dedication and leadership in the field of boat propeller safety.

Thanks also to Phyllis for her tireless efforts though the years.

And, thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard for their recognizing Marion’s efforts.

gary polson


Marion passed away a few months later on 18 May 2016. We posted a tribute to her life.


  1. I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with Marion during a variety of boating conferences. I applaud her passion and determination to stop the propellor strikes despite the many obstacles. I had never heard of propeller strikes before meeting Marion. She quickly educated me.

    Congratulations Marion on receiving this award. You are a real warrior and champion. And now the torch is passed.
    I know my Ashleigh and your Emillio are applauding heartily as well.

    My best,
    Jan Willhite-Iserman
    Ashleigh Iserman Boating Safety Foundation

  2. Carol Irving Mattox

    Gary, I just read this to Marion as she was resting from another long day at the IBWSS in San Diego. I cannot tell you how your words lifted her mood and filled her heart. Thank you for your unwavering support and efforts to propeller accident awareness. Your countless hours toward a solution is admirable and have brought our community knowledge and strength. My sincere gratitude for the kind words about my hero, my aunt.

    Jan, to you as well I send my gratitude for the sweet words (she loved them!). My heart breaks for the parents left behind. Thank you for finding the courage to fight.

    Carol I Mattox

  3. Jacob Brochtrup

    Congratulations, Marion. Great to see you and Phyllis in good spirits. This recognition is long overdue. Thank you so much for the hard work and dedication. Some of us affected by propeller injuries find it to be too much, emotionally, to face down the industry and immerse ourselves in the cause every day. But for that reason, we are all extremely grateful for your tireless efforts. Thank you, Marion. (And Phyllis!) We miss you, and wish you and yours all the best, truly and deeply.

    Love, Jacob.

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