Propeller Safety Year in Review 2011

A review of the major propeller safety events in 2011 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.

  • 13 January 2011 Guy Taylor’s Boat Propeller Shield patent application (U.S. Patent Application US 2011/0009018) was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • 14-16 January 2011 86th Meeting of NBSAC (National Boating Safety Advisory Council) at Arlington Virginia. CED presenting their propeller guard testing program results from the circular tank testing at SUNY (State University of New York at Buffalo).
  • 4 February 2011 Gabby deSouza, 14 year old girl, was caught in a boat propeller off Palm Beach, Florida when she and a friend were boarding a boat near shore. Her recovery was closely followed by the press. We later “wordled” some of that coverage to show the phases of coverage a propeller accident passes through.
  • 17 February 2011 Accident Mitigation Meeting at Miami International Boat Show. CED reported on the circular tank testing, Guy Taylor showed his flip up rear screen guard, there was a discussion of on the relevance of the SUNY testing not including a boat hull.
  • 1-2 April 2011 87th Meeting of NBSAC at Arlington Virginia. Much of this meeting focused on mandatory wear of life jackets.
  • 27 May 2011 U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found for Brochtrup in Brochtrup v. Mercury Marine and Sea Ray propeller case (upholding the $3.8 million award).
  • 7 June 2011 the Jury rendered a $30 plus million verdict in the Robert Bell v. MasterCraft Boat Company case in which two women were struck by the propeller. The case focused on the design of the boat, the large number of people on board, and rated capacity of the boat (the small boat had a rated of 18 people).
  • 8 June 2011 U.S. Coast Guard published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking for Engine Cut-Off Switches. They are considering requiring new boats to have them and making their use mandatory on vessels equipped with them. Public comments are being sought through September 6, 2011.
  • 10 June 2011 Brunswick petitioned for a rehearing of the Brochtrup case in front of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • 20 June 2011 we launched the all new Propeller Guard Information Center at
  • 22 June 2011 we wrote up the recently released USCG Recreational Boating Statistics 2010 report that was released a little over a week ago. It reported 179 propeller accidents and 27 propeller fatalities in 2010.
  • 30 June 2011 Alexis Angelopolous, 12 year old girl, was trapped in a twin propeller off Virginia Beach. Rescue workers spent about 90 minutes trying to get her leg out of the propellers. Eventually, they were able to take the propeller off the boat.
  • 8 July 2011 we posted a notice on the public release version of BARD 2010 (the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Accident Report Database) being short all the data from over twenty states and several territories.
  • 12,13 July 2011 we posted information on several Florida propeller accidents that appear to be absent in BARD (or at least not labeled as propeller accidents in BARD), including a propeller fatality. After generating a discussion with USCG and Florida FWC we discovered some of those accidents were in fact missing from BARD or misreported in BARD, including at least one fatality accident. The bulk of the rest of them were not actually new accidents. They were generated by a glitch in Florida’s system which was double counting some accident sequences. Florida was happy to find and correct the glitch.
  • August 1911 100th anniversary of John W. Anderson, then 25 years old, being struck and killed by the propeller of his boat in Boston Harbor. He fell overboard, was drawn into the propeller, struck, knocked unconscious, and drowned before he could be rescued by his companions in August 1911. USCG is still discussing whether or not to require new boats to include engine kill switches a hundred years later.
  • 26 August 2011 we supplied our public comments on USCG-2009-0206 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Emergency Engine Cut-off Switches.
  • 27 August 2011, Dr. Stephen Keller, a San Jose dentist was killed by a propeller strike on Lake Tahoe. He was beloved by hundreds and his death generated an unusual outpouring of condolences online.
  • 29 August 2011 we posted a series of five PGIC invention disclosures on RFID Boat Kill Switches. They culminated in an RFID life jacket that provides normal life jacket protection AND also serves as a virtual lanyard.
  • 10 September 2011 Dr. Lawrence E. “Larry” Thibault passed away. He was a long time biomechanics expert witness for propeller accident victims.
  • 21 September 2012 we posted a list of people that had been entrapped by an open boat propeller in response to the industry talking about the possibility of people being entrapped in a propeller guard.
  • 14 October 2011 NBSAC meeting Washington DC.
  • 17 October 2011 USCG Accident Mitigation Workshop IBEX 2011 Louisville Kentucky. Status of Propeller Guard Test protocol, prop strike and carbon monoxide ruling and status of cut-off switch ruling.
  • November 2011 we blogged the Robin Listman vs. Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) trial live daily for the last several days of the trial. It ended 21 November with a jury verdict in favor of OMC>
  • November 24, 2011 supplied our public comments on USCG-2011-0497 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking titled, Recreational Vessel Propeller Strike and Carbon Monoxide Casualty Prevention.
  • In November 2011 we established a research project category on our blog to encourage Senior Design, Senior Thesis, Masters Thesis and Capstone projects in areas of interest to propeller guard designers. Our first post after establishing the area and outlining some previously posted projects still in need of work, included a series of projects to generate a better understanding of the drag associated with meshes and screens often used in constructing propeller guards.
  • November 2011 Oliver Lee of the University of Sydney (Australia) published his thesis, “Propeller Guard Design: An Investigation Using CFD” and laid some great groundwork for others to build on in this exciting and promising field (use of Computational Fluid Dynamics software to optimize propeller guard designs).
  • 12 December 2011 USCG/ABYC Propeller Strike Webinar to discuss final phase of the Propeller Guard Test Protocol. The first use of webinars which we have long encouraged.
  • 16 December 2012 we published our attempts at a guide to aid boaters trying to sort through the various propeller safety devices, training, and behavioral approaches in an effort to encourage others to do work in this area as well, especially the current USCG propeller guard test protocol project.
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