14-year-old’s leg caught in boat propeller

February 7, 2011

The Sun-Sentinel reports that a 14-year-old girl was critically injured Saturday afternoon in Juno Beach Pier in Palm Beach County, Florida. According to reports, the girl and her friends were enjoying a day at the beach when a 22-foot white Cobia boat approached them. Despite lifeguards warnings to get out of the swimming area, the boat continued to make its way towards the shore.

The girls were attempting to get into the boat when a wave carried it towards the beach. When they approached it again, an even bigger wave hit the boat, so the driver in an attempt to avoid the boat from getting beached, gassed the engine causing the boat to strike three girls. Unfortunately, the propeller struck the leg of one of the girls, before the boat sped away. The girl whose identity is unknown was airlifted to St. Mary’s Medical Center and is in critical but stable condition. The boat was later found at the Crab House in Jupiter, and two of the people onboard are being questioned.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2008 there were 4,789 reported boat accidents in the country, which resulted in 709 deaths and 3,331 injuries. The U.S. Coast Guard in the Recreational Boating Statistics 2008 publication found the following:
• Recreational boating accidents caused $54 million of property damage
• More than two-thirds of all fatal boating accident victims drowned
• Among the drowning victims, 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket
• Only 10 percent of the fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction
• Seven out of 10 drowning victims were on boats less than 21 feet in length
• Alcohol was a leading factor in deadly boating accidents
• Eleven children under thirteen years of age died in boating accidents
• Open motorboats were the most common type of vessel involved in boat accidents

Attorney Joseph M. Maus states it is critical in a boating accident to determine which laws apply. Depending on where your boating accident occurred, either Florida law, Federal Maritime law, or a combination of both could apply. If you or someone you know has been involved in a serious Florida boating accident, contact attorney Joseph M. Maus.

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