Molly Moses – 2009 Boat Propeller Accident

Molly Moses in 2013

Molly Moses in 2013

Molly Moses, 16, was boating on the Tennessee River at Lake Wheeler shortly before midnight Friday 31 July, 2009. She was with her father, Brian Moses, and a family friend in an 18 foot fishing boat near Findley Island in Morgan County, Alabama.

They were returning from a fishing trip, the boat lurched hard to the right for some unknown reason, Molly and the family friend (a 25 year old male from Hartselle) were ejected. Brian Moses said the steering wheel helped him stay on board. Molly Moses’ leg was nearly severed by the propeller. Her father dove in to help, and the family friend came to her aid as well. Her dad used his shirt as a tourniquet to help stop her leg from bleeding.

Some nearby bowfishermen helped get her to shore. At least three calls were made to 911 which helped make sure medical care was at the harbor when they made it to shore. Two were made anonymously by someone viewing from shore, the third was by someone at the boat launch when they arrived.

The calls were really helpful, because the Moses’ phones and the phone of the gentleman with them in the boat were not functional after they jumped in to help her.

A few minutes after Molly arrived at the dock, paramedics had her out of the boat and were inserting intravenous fluid lines.

She was life flighted from a parking lot near Ingalls Harbor to Huntsville Hospital. Her mother beat the helicopter to the hospital.

Doctors operated for about 18 hours in an attempt to save her leg. Saturday afternoon they were waiting to see if the blood would start flowing and Molly could keep her leg.

Calls quickly went out online for “Miracles for Molly” and many sent their prayers online in boating forums and other gathering places. Her mother, Polly Moses, also called for prayers for Molly to keep her leg.

Molly suffered deep cuts to her upper left leg and less severe cuts to her ankle. Doctors grafted another artery in to replace the portion of an artery in her left thigh going to her lower leg. Her pulse showed that operation was a success.

Then doctors waited to see if nerves in her leg would begin to respond. They said if her nerves did not begin to respond, they would have to remove her leg to prevent infection from spreading to the rest of her body.

On Sunday August 2nd, Molly Moses was responsive and could squeeze her parents hands.

Photos show what appears to be a 150 HP Mercury outboard motor on the boat.

Molly attended Decatur High School.

Alabama Marine Police suspect the boat may have struck a submerged log.

Molly Moses and her family are very grateful for all who helped in her rescue, including: those that called 911, fire fighters, rescue workers, nurses on the helicopter, and doctors that operated on her.

A Life-South blood drive was quickly organized as she received 50 units of blood in the first few days (the equivalent of 5 transfusions).

More than 120 friends and family members came by the hospital on Saturday to check on her. Some started the “Miracles for Molly” site we mentioned earlier. By 6pm on Sunday, the site had over 500 members.

Friends were also raising funds for her medical care by selling “Miracle for Molly” rubber bracelets.

The dates below are generally the dates of media reports. The actual events often happened a day or two earlier.

  • 4 August 2009 – reports were that Molly has kept her almost severed leg for three days now. Doctors continue to wait to see how the leg improves and if swelling decreases. Doctors reported she had felt a couple twinges in her leg. They said they anticipated removing her from the respirator on Monday night which would allow her to talk. Life-South has scheduled two blood drives for her and already collected 69 units of blood from walk-ins. Her Facebook page, Miracles for Molly, now has over 1900 members. The family is already planning on going to Congress and to have an Alabama law requiring cages on boat propellers. A fund in her name was setup at People’s Bank in Decatur and at Renesant Banks to help with medical expenses. Molly was reported as craving bar-be-que ribs.
  • 4 August 2009 – Molly’s family and friends started posting on Molly’s recovery, tributes to her, and information on upcoming fundraisers on Caring Bridge.
  • 5 August 2009 – Her family is calling for the attention of law makers and promoting what they call Molly’s Law, a law requiring propeller cages on boats. Molly’s medical bills are mounting. Her family and friends still hope she will be able to keep her leg.
  • 9 August 2009 – Molly had played softball every year until two years ago. She stopped due to asthma. When her former coaches and teammates recently played in the Dixie Web World Series, they drew her name in the dirt, dedicated the game to her, and autographed a softball for her.
  • Tuesday 18 August 2009 – Her left leg was amputated a couple inches above the knee.
  • Friday 21 August 2009 – Molly says she is relieved after the amputation. Initially she feared she would lose her leg at the hip. Now she will have a stump for a prosthetic. She does continue to have phantom pains for her missing leg which doctors say may go on for several months. Yesterday companies showed her some prosthetic legs. She want a pretty one, but was told the prettier they are, the harder they are to use. She will be back in surgery on Friday to clean her wounds, and again on Monday to close some more wounds.
  • Friday 18 September 2009 – a benefit at The Brick Deli raised $14,136 for “Miracles for Molly” last night. About half came from donations at the door, and the remainder came from a silent auction, tickets for drawings, t-shirt sales, and wristband sales. Two music groups played from opening to closing with no cover charge.
  • 20 September 2009 – several ladies from the French Door Day Spa recently gave Molly Moses a makeover (facial, manicure, hairdo, makeup).
  • 10 October 2009 – A scenic motorcycle ride will be held today in Decatur Alabama as a fundraiser for Molly Moses.
  • 23 October 2009 – The media reports that friends have been working on preparing Molly’s home for her arrival. They ripped out a bathtub and replaced flooring in Molly’s bathroom, pulled up carpet in other rooms to make them more wheelchair friendly, will be installing a whirlpool tub, widening doorways, and building a wheel chair ramp entry to the home. Molly is expected to return near Thanksgiving if things continue to go well.
  • Tuesday 10 November 2009 – A local photographer, Ellis Chenault, decided to start an annual tradition of decorating his storefront for Thanksgiving with photos of a local family that exhibit a great attitude of thanks. The Moses’ family was picked to be the first. The family agreed to participate. A local caterer, Casual Gourmet, agreed to supply a Thanksgiving feast for the annual photos and the newspaper agreed to run them. Huntsville Hospital set up a dinner table in an empty room next to Molly’s. Casual Gourmet also brought along some snickerdoodle cookies, a special request from Molly. The meal was served today and everything went perfectly.
  • Friday 13 November 2009 – Molly Moses hopes to finally come home from the hospital on Monday.
  • Monday 16 November 2009 – Molly Moses returned home this afternoon with a police and fireman escort and was met by a large crowd of family, friends, and EMTs. Her home now has a wheelchair ramp. She has been through 28 surgeries so far and had her right foot rebuilt. Molly plans on completing her school work for this year online, returning to school next year as senior, and be walking by then. For now, she is happy to be out of the hospital and not have to spend Thanksgiving there.
  • 15 April 2010 – MedFlight celebrated 25 years of service in the Tennessee Valley. Their flight with Molly Moses was highlighted as as example of the importance of getting those injured to the hospital as fast as possible. Molly provided a few quotes of thanks for them after the celebration.
  • 27 April 2010 Molly is beginning to learn to walk on a prosthetic leg. She says she want a “pretty” one like that worn by a lady working outreach at Fourroux Prosthetics in Huntsville.
  • 30 July to 4 August 2010 – local media carried the traditional, its been one year since the big accident story. Molly continues to be positive and speaks of her determination to one day get back in a boat and face down her fear. She continues to inspire the community. Doctors plan to remove some hardware from her foot and do some nerve reconstruction in a few weeks. Later, they will cut some bone off her stump to make it more comfortable for a prosthetic. Molly has not been able to return to the classroom, but her top goal now is to graduate with her class at Decatur High School in May. She also promotes the idea of a law requiring every boat to have a cage over the propeller, or every person on board being hooked to a kill switch. One of her biggest frustrations is having to recover from multiple surgeries. Her mother wonders if Molly will one day be able to have children and care for them. The family planned a “day of appreciation” at Ingalls Harbor, but it had to be postponed while Molly recovers from another surgery. Her family is working with the Jaycees to include an appreciation segment in the annual Riverfest in September.
  • 11 February 2011 – A benefit for Molly Moses with musical performances and a silent auction will be held at Burningtree Country Club in Decatur on February 19. Molly will soon be traveling to Cleveland Ohio for her 36th surgery. Admission will be $10 at the door, all proceeds go to Miracles for Molly.
  • 31 May 2011 – Molly Moses accepted her high school diploma on Friday from a wheelchair. Her classmates are going off to work and college, but she faces more surgeries and learning to walk with a prosthesis. Molly plans to eventually go to college and have a career in nursing.
  • 6 December 2011 – Molly was on hand to help dedicate LifeSouth Blood Center’s new district headquarters on Thursday. She has became one of the faces of Life South after needing over 50 units in her initial surgery, and 22 more units in her subsequent 51 surgeries.
  • 12 September 2012 – Eaton Corporation employees recently built a wheelchair ramp for Molly Moses during the United Way Day of Caring.
  • 4 February 2013 – LifeSouth Blood Center moved into a large facility in Albertville on Thursday. Molly Moses was noted as one of the victims that had benefited from their lifesaving services and was in attendance at the ribbon cutting.
  • 31 July 2013 – Molly will be facing her 52nd surgery on August 20th. She spoke of some dread every time the anniversary of her accident comes around and how it reminds her of what she has been through. Molly intentionally scheduled herself to work a few days in her grandmothers gift shop, The French Connection, to keep her mind off the anniversary this time. She says they still don’t know what caused the boat to lurch that night and eject her. The unknown cause keeps the accident alive in her mind. She plans to enroll in college this fall. The Orthapedic Center in Huntsville fitted Molly with a prosthetic this past winter, but she became more active, lost some weight and the prosthetic no longer fit. They now plan to use a flexible liner that will expand or contract to maintain the fit. Molly wants to be able teach her 3 year old niece to play softball when she is old enough. She does not mind children staring at her leg or studying it, but does mind parents telling them to stop. Molly still faces multiple doctor visits each week.
  • 21 August 2013 – Molly Moses’ recent 52nd surgery was a success. It took a little more work and lasted longer than Huntsville Hospital surgeons initially expected, but the surgery went well. They were primarily trying to make her right foot a little flatter. She faces 6 to 8 weeks of recovery in cast and some physical therapy. In late July on the eve of the fourth anniversary of her accident, Molly said she still plans to eventually walk again using a prosthetic leg.

Molly has faced tremendous challenges, but does give back to the community in several ways. Her positive spirit inspires many, and her efforts with LifeSouth Community Blood Centers have encouraged many to give blood.

Molly Moses LifeSouth Blood Centers Commercial

Molly Moses LifeSouth Blood Centers Commercial


5 December 2013 – sometimes young people go through horrendous propeller accidents and come out being an inspiration to us all. We think they can do no wrong. We forget they are human just like the rest of us. Some stumble and make very serious mistakes. It appears that may have happened in the instance of Molly Moses. WHNT reports the police arrested her 4 December 2013 for selling marijuana on three occasions. We have seen some other propeller victims fall prey to recreational drugs and worse. We wish her the best and hope Molly gets the help she needs to turn her life around if these reports turn out to be correct. We especially appreciate the work she did encouraging blood donations at LifeSouth Blood Centers. Its a good time to return to one of the slogans used after her accident, and pray for “Miracles for Molly”.

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