Circle of Death Video: ReelJedi

YouTube fishing channel, ReelJedi, was filming on Lake Seminole (Georgia / Florida border) when a nearby boater running at speed in a Bass Tracker boat was ejected. The Bass Tracker powered by a Mercury Marine outboard motor went into the Circle of Death, then ReelJedi and his father rescued him.

ReelJedi speculates the boat hit a stump just below the surface causing the man to be ejected.

After the ejected man was safety on board and they escaped the dangerous area near the unmanned circling boat and called 911 for help. Authorities eventually said they were 30 to 40 minutes away. The boat continued to circle with a full tank of gas. The boat was gradually blowing toward a boat dock. If the boat were to strike the boat dock at speed, the boat would likely be severely damaged. They came up with a plan to throw a rope into the path of the propeller.

Eventually the Bass Tracker boat hung up near shore in shallow water, and the owner was able to board the boat and shut it off.

ReelJedi’s video was posted on YouTube 16 April 2019.

About two weeks later on 29 April 2019, ReelJedi posted another video explaining what happened. His new video shows some additional footage plus a view from another camera on board.

In the second video ReelJedi notes the unmanned circling boat would have stopped if it had a foot throttle, or if the kill switch lanyard was in use.

The man ejected later told them he recently purchased the boat and the kill switch did not work. He has since repaired the switch and plans to use it in the future.

We encourage those watching the videos above to do so from a desktop computer. YouTube has them available in a range of resolutions all the way up to 1080 at 60 frames a second.

A big thanks to ReelJedi for capturing the accident on high resolution stabilized video and for later sharing more in depth information while pointing out ways to prevent these accidents.

Thanks to Fell Marine for calling these videos to our attention in their Spring 2019 Boating Safety Bulletin.

With the proliferation of sports cameras constantly capturing stabilized high resolution video on bass boats, it is only a matter of time till one of these videos does not have such a happy ending. It would be interesting to see a judge making the determination of whether to allow the jury to see the Circle of Death video or not. Likely only parts of it would be allowed.

ReelJedi notes in this instance, the man ejected was not wearing a life jacket. To ReelJedi it looked like the first circle of the boat the propeller struck the man’s head but he had not surfaced. If the man had been wearing a life jacket he could have been killed.

We have seen several other Circle of Death accidents in which a life jacket prevented a person in the water from diving to avoid the boat and propeller.

We are ABSOLUTELY not calling on boaters to not wear life jackets. We are calling on the industry to fix the Circle of Death problem and on boaters to wear kill switch lanyards or use wireless lanyards till they do.

This video also shows how hard it can be to pull a swimmer or injured person into a boat from the water.

We filed this report in our propeller accident category because it was basically a near miss.

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