Propeller Safety Year in Review 2017

A brief review of the major propeller safety events in 2017 including safety meetings, accidents, legal cases, deaths of those involved in the movement, statistics, patents, articles published, public service announcements, anniversaries, regulations, and other related events.

This year will likely be remembered as the year of the kill switch and the year of the discussion of propeller guards on boats used with youth training.

A new wireless kill switch came on the scene (MOB + from Fell Marine), the Coast Guard funded a program at the National Safe Boating Council to call attention to the need to wear your kill switch lanyard, and at least two great kill switch Public Service Announcements were released (Phyllis Kopytko and Hunter Bland).

A propeller fatality at a Long Island Yacht Club focused attention on the need for safety in youth sailing programs.

A listing of propeller safety events in 2017 follows:

14 January 2017 Hunter Bland and Connor Young, two collegiate bass fishermen, were ejected from a bass boat at speed during a tournament. The event was captured by on board video. The video went viral.

Early 2017 Fell Marine started making major inroads with their MOB+ wireless kill switch.

23-25 March 2017 I attended the U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) meeting in Arlington Virginia. Among the propeller safety topics discussed there were falling over the bow of pontoon boats and tow boat safety.

21 May 2017 Yu Chen, well known local wakesurfer killed by propeller of University of Wisconsin rescue boat.

June 2017 recently released Coast Guard statistics show an increase during 2016 in the number of boat accidents, number of injuries, number of fatalities, number of propeller strikes, and number of propeller injuries.

2 June 2017 Anderson South Carolina Deputy Devin Hodges killed by a boat propeller during training exercises on Lake Hartwell.

26 June 2017 Katlyn Oliver, 4, and her father were swimming back to shore in Belton Lake (Texas) when she was struck by a houseboat propeller. Her father tried to rescue her and was seriously struck as well. Katlyn died later that day. Her father, Patrick Oliver, died from his wounds a couple weeks later.

10 July 2017 Hunter Bland (see January accident referenced above) is featured in a kill switch PSA as part of a week long kickoff event by the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC).

12 July 2017 we ran a piece on the current National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) kill switch PSA campaign. I met those with the campaign back in March at the NBSAC meeting and sent them several news clips related to kill switch preventable accidents during 2017.

18 July 2017 a Ryan Weiss, 12, was killed by the propeller of a rescue boat at Centerport Yacht Club, Long Island, New York during a sailing lesson. The accident caused youth sailboat training facilities to reevaluate their position on propeller guards. That process is continuing.

25 July 2017 we wrote a piece on Brunswick’s recent patent for an active trim cylinder, similar to the design we proposed earlier.

July 2017 the long awaited Phyllis Kopytko boat kill switch PSA (Public Service Announcement) was finally at least partially released. Our understanding is the boating industry was not pleased with the video showing boating in a manner other than fun.

August 2017 The State of New York proposed regulations requiring propeller guards on boats used to instruct youth in the wake of the July accident claiming the life of Ryan Weiss.

16 August 2017 NBC4 Washington DC aired Small Craft Advisory an investigation in boating accidents they suggest are at least partially due to minimal regulatory oversight of the boating industry.

26 September 2017 The Leash received its patent.

December 2017 the Barhanovich case (outboard motor broke off after allegedly striking dredge pipe, flipped into boat, killed Mark Barhanovich) continues. Now Bean, the dredging firm, is suing Suzuki of Japan.

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