In July of 2012, Kali Gorzell was tossed from a friends bay boat while on a fishing trip in Port Aransas. The problem is, unsafe piloting or speeds were not the cause of the accident. The boat was.
Kali’s father, James Gorzell recalls the incident.
“They were having a really fantastic day. They were sharing photos with us,” said Kali’s father, James Gorzell.
“Suddenly the boat completely swapped ends. Kali was not in the boat. They heard a big thump on the engine,” James Gorzell said.
Kali had been thrown from the boat and struck in the head and neck by the boats propeller. The alarming fact is that the boat was making a relatively slow speed turn before suddenly and violently spinning around 180 degrees and even bringing the prop out of the water at one point.
Despite doctors’ efforts, they were unable to save Kali from her injuries. She is not the first, and presumably not the last one to fall victim to the unsafe design of these flat bottom boats.
Last year both Michael Dominguez and Janis Lindeman were thrown from the same type of boats during slow maneuvering. Unfortunately Janis did not survive after being hit by the propeller.
After experiencing tragedy first hand and then learning about the other accidents occurring on these boats, Kali’s parents, James and Donna Gorzell, with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard and their contractor, CED Technologies, spearheaded the push to conduct several rounds of testing on similar craft in Maryland to determine and further illuminate the problems and risks with these type of boats.
The results were eye opening. Conducting hard turns at 25 mph, a routine and safe maneuver for most boats, resulted in a spin out almost every single time. Even more concerning was the fact that the prop also came out of the water during the spin out more times than not.
The study by the Coast Guard contractor, CED Technologies, concluded: “It would be difficult to envision how either of the two hull forms could be safely used for recreational boating. In its present form, the two hull forms tested by CED were unsafe.”
Although the Coast Guard is not in a position to officially declare any boat unsafe, they do acknowledge that the conditions are unsafe.
Currently the Gorzells are working with Texas State Rep. Lyle Larson on a bill that would require all boat operators to have a kill switch that would cut power to the engine if the operator is thrown off their feet or overboard.
Hopefully these changes will take effect soon and in the meantime people will be extra cautious when operating one of these boats.
See the original article here along with video footage of the testing released by the Coast Guard.
San Antonio family’s tragedy leads to Coast Guard warning about “bay boats”