Careless boating and unheeded warnings led to a 14-year-old girl’s leg getting caught in a boat propeller on Juno Beach Pier in Palm Beach County over the weekend. Lifeguards had repeatedly warned the 22-foot boat to leave the swimming area, according to a Sun Sentinel report, but the boat continued toward the beach.
The girl and her friends were swimming in about 3 feet of water when the boat approached, and they attempted to climb in. Waves pushed the boat toward shore and eventually the driver revved the engine to prevent beaching it. The boat struck three of the girls and the propeller cut one of their legs, leaving the girl in critical but stable condition and undergoing surgery. The boat sped away after the accident and was later impounded after being found in Jupiter.
In 2007 there were 77 fatalities caused by boating accidents in Florida alone, which led the entire country. With over 1 million registered vessels in Florida, there were over 650 reported boating accidents resulting in injury, death or serious damage. It is estimated that there are another 350,000 non-registered boats using Florida’s waterways.
Virtually all boating accidents are preventable. The most common cause of these tragedies is operator inexperience or inattention. 84% of all boating fatalities that occur on boats happen where operators have not completed a boating safety education course.