Propeller Safety Year in Review 2010

A review of the major events in propeller safety in 2010 including safety meetings, accidents, legal cases, deaths of those involved in the movement, statistics, patents, articles published, public service announcements, anniversaries, and other related events. This is our first year to put together a history like this and we look forward to it becoming an annual event. If you would like to suggest an event missing from this list please contact us.

  • 11 February 2010 – USCG Accident Meeting in Miami. The Safety Propeller from Australia was shown, including shocking video of person sticking his arm against the rotating Safety Propeller and not being injured. ABYC video footage of swim ladder propeller proximity problems was also shown.
  • 14 February Oliver Minchin, 19 year old Australian Army Cadet and son of well know Liberal Senator Nick Minchin, fell from a boat in a training exercise and was struck by the propeller. The accident received a great deal of publicity and his father later announced his resignation in order to spend more time with his son while he recovers.
  • 17 March 2010 Regan v. Starcraft Marine propeller case concerning a pontoon boat rented from an Army recreational facility had the propeller portion of the case dismissed today.
  • 5 April 2010 Brochtrup v. Sea Ray Boats and Mercury Marine propeller case jury found Brunswick 66 percent responsible and the judge issued a judgement against them for approximately 2 million dollars. One interesting element of the case was the showing of Guy Taylors 3PO Navigator guard with a “swinging” rear face guard on it. We have been advocating “swing up” / “flapper” rear face guards for a while but they actually date back much further to a 1975 Balius patent.
  • Robert Hooper

    Robert Hooper

    7 April 2010 – Robert (Bob) Hooper, inventor of the Prop Buddy propeller guard passed away. I had the opportunity to spend a couple days with him and Julia Loy at his machine shop a few years back. He is a wonderful gentleman and very well respected by others. He was a great tinkerer capable of fixing, repairing, or making about anything mechanical and known for speaking his mind. Mr. Hooper had some great stories from his diving experiences. He will be sorely missed by many. Thanks Bob for leading a great life and for devoting several years of it to propeller safety. Our condolences to Julia. She was patient with me during my visit and a great host. For more info, please see his obituary.

Robert Hooper in PFD
Prop Buddy propeller guard

Prop Buddy Propeller Guard

  • 15-17 April 2010 – USCG National Boating Safety Advisory Council Meeting Arlington Virginia. Minutes from this meeting have not yet been posted online as of 27 December 2010. Among topics to be discussed were the BIRMC warning label project and a Propeller Strike Injury Avoidance session.
  • 6 May 2010 – U.S. Patent Application 20100111703 Safety Propeller by Colin Chamberlain of Australia was published. This is the Australian Environmental Safety Propeller that won their 2009 invention of the year contest. It looks like a normal prop with blunted leading edges and a hole in the blade.
  • 25 May 2010 – U.S. Patent 7,722,418 Energy Dissipation Valves for Hydraulic Cylinders issued today. Assigned to Teleflex. Trim Cylinder relief valve system for log strikes that appears like it might also be able to reduce blunt trauma impact to people or manatees struck by guards. They use very stiff springs with low preloads to allow the balls to modulate and control internal pressures during low energy impacts. (They try to accomplish what Mercury Marine tried with U.S. Patent 3,999,502 and 4,050,359, and they do it with fewer parts in a neater package for less cost.)
  • 10 June 2010 – we finally published “Houseboat Propeller Injury Avoidance Measures Proposed and Withdrawn by the U.S. Coast Guard: An Analysis by the Propeller Guard Information Center”. We spent over two years writing this highly detailed report of the errors and mistakes that brought about the rejection of this proposed regulation.
  • 28 July 2010 – USCG annual “Recreational Boating Statistics 2009” released. It included 184 people struck by propellers and 25 fatalities. One of the tables, Table 17, was revised in response to suggestions by us and SPIN to help reduce confusion between “Event 1” data and the total number of accidents and fatalities associated with each accident type.
  • 30 July 2010 – we published “NBSAC Propeller Guard Subcommittee Report: 1989 National Boating Safety Advisory Council” an analysis of those on the subcommittee and how it went about its work, including one member who was later convicted in a major union voting mail fraud case based on events that transpired during the time he was on the subcommittee.
  • Late August 2010 – USCG released a public service announcement (PSA) video titled “Don’t Wreck Your Summer” that ended with a propeller accident. Shortly later the industry began to object to the PSA claiming it showed boating in a bad light.
  • 15 September 2010 – 80 year anniversary of a high profile 15 September 1930 New York prop accident in which a 15 year old girl, Elsie Hughes, reached over the side of a boat at a summer camp on Lake Saranac, fell in, her legs were severely cut by the prop, and she died later. Now 80 years later, the accidents are still with us, but Elsie and her unborn descendants are not.
  • 27 September 2010 – Rozon v. Aramark houseboat propeller fatality case settled and dismissed.
  • 29 September 2010 – USCG Accident Mitigation Meeting in Louisville Kentucky. CED Investigative Technologies presented their preliminary report on recent ballistic gell testing of the effectiveness of propeller guards at SUNY (State University of New York at Buffalo). Another video of the Australian Environmental Safety Propeller invented by Colin Chamberlain was shown. This one showed both men and women sticking their arms and legs into the rotating propeller without injury.
  • 10 October 2010 – Luke Evslin was preparing to jump from an escort boat to a canoe in part of an exchange in a major canoe race in Hawaii (Molokai Hoe race). The escort boat hit a wave, he was ejected and struck by the propeller. He is a widely known and well liked young man that works in the industry.
  • Fall 2010 – USCG National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) was cancelled due to bureaucratic issues.
  • 3 November 2010 – Mistrial declared in Robin Listman v. OMC propeller accident case due to defense attorney Jay O’Sullivan violating rulings made in pretrial judgements during his opening argument.
  • About 8 November 2010 – USCG pulled down the “Don’t Wreck Your Summer” PSA that included a propeller accident in response to pressure from the boating industry.
  • 20 November thru 15 December 2010 – 20 year anniversary of the original testing at SUNY back in late 1990. Its notable, the industry returned there this year to do the ballistic testing. Could this possibly progress any slower?
  • 27 December 2010 – Google Adwords Keyword tool reports “prop guards” as the most popular search term related to propeller guards, It received about thirteen hundred searches a month in the U.S. in English.
  • Unknown Dates – Boating Industry Risk Management Council (BIRMC) probably met once or more in 2010 with propeller guard cases, propeller warning labels, and/or other propeller safety issues on their agenda but with no published agendas, no published minutes, and the public not allowed to attend their meetings, we can only report they are still working on developing the propeller warning label. NBSAC passed a resolution in June 2002 for USCG to have ABYC develop the label. ABYC began working with NMMA and BIRMC on the label and now eight years later, the label is still in development.
  • We won’t know the official 2010 year end USCG accident and fatality count till mid next year.

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