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Teen critically injured after Palm Beach County boating accident

A shoreline Palm Beach boating accident off Juno Beach last Saturday has left a 14-year-old girl in critical condition with a serious leg injury at St. Mary’s Medical Center, the Palm Beach Post reports.

The accident occurred as the girl was attempting to board a 22-ft. Cobia in about three feet of water. She was struck in the leg by the propeller when the operator revved the engine in an effort to avoid becoming beached after waves pushed the vessel toward the shore.

She was dragged to the beach by friends where lifeguards worked to stop the bleeding. The Cobia sped off. To date two on-board witnesses to the accident have been questioned by authorities and an investigation is ongoing.

Our Palm Beach accident attorneys know that Florida is second only to Texas for the number of boating-related fatalities. According the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida led the nation in 2009 both in the number of registered vessels (982,470) and number of boating accidents (620).

In 2009, there were 65 Florida boating-related fatalities and another 426 people were injured in boating accidents on Florida waters. Since reaching a 10-year peak in 2002 with 1,181 reportable boating accidents, Florida has seen a consistent and steady drop in both accidents and fatalities on our waterways.

Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward were among the top five counties for both number of registered vessels and number of boating accidents in 2009, broken down as follows:

~ Miami-Dade County had 63,161 registered vessels and reported 62 boating accidents that killed 4 and injured 52.

~ Palm Beach County had 42,517 registered vessels and reported 56 boating accidents that killed 3 and injured 21.

~ Broward County had 45,373 registered vessels and reported 30 boating accidents that injured 12. There were no reported boating-related fatalities in Broward County in 2009.

~ St. Lucie County had 13,621 registered vessels and reported 7 boating accidents that injured 4. There were no reported boating-related fatalities in St. Lucie County in 2009.

Boating accidents were most common in July (78), May (77) and April (73), and occurred most frequently during mid-afternoons. In 2009, 13 people were injured by a propeller strike.

Boat Safe reports that a typical three-blade propeller can travel the length of an average-size person in less than one-tenth of a second, potentially exposing a victim to up to 160 points of impact in just one second. To prevent a prop strike, Boat Safe recommends:

~ Before starting your engine physically check to be sure the prop is clear of any obstructions, human or otherwise. Never enter swim-only zones and exercise extreme care in congested areas, or when towing skiers.

~ NEVER allow passengers to board or exit a boat from the water when engines are running. Even in idle a prop can cause deadly harm.

~ NEVER reverse to pick someone up out of the water.

~ If someone on your boat falls overboard, STOP. Before restarting your engine, appoint a person onboard to keep eye on person in water. Turn the engine off before bringing them on board.

~ Install safety devices, such as a prop guard, a wireless cut-off switch or sensors.

The Fort Lauderdale boating accident lawyers at Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez, LLC have been successfully and aggressively representing accident victims and their families in Miami, Margate, West Palm Beach, Hollywood and Ft. Pierce /Port St. Lucie for years. Email us or call us today to schedule a no-obligation appointment to discuss your case at 1-800-529-2368.

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