FWC shares tips to protect you and your family while boating

Emily Champagne was enjoying a work event on a boat just off Fort Myers Beach two years ago when her life changed forever.

“It was a split second. I literally got pulled underneath the boat in a split second,” said Champagne.

She was thrown from the boat and her right leg hit the boat’s propeller.

“I had multiple propeller chops three of them being very severe,” she said. While Champagne did learn how to walk again, the nerve and muscle damage she endured is permanent.

Just last weekend, another Southwest Florida woman was injured in a boat propeller accident.

Sue Brady is just beginning her journey to recovery. “I’ve gotta very very long road ahead of me,” Brady said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says they’ve seen an increase in boat propeller incidents in SWFL recently, seeing three accidents along the Gulf Coast in just one day. Cape Coral resident Emily Champagne believes it’s because people just aren’t informed enough about the risks.

There is no real instruction that comes with it and that makes it very dangerous because people don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know the dangers,” she said.

FWC wants to remind boaters to turn off the engine while people are entering and exiting the boat. Another tip is to make sure everyone is seated before taking off. They also say to never power a boat off while on a sandbar or on the shoreline. Lastly, always wear your life jacket.

Champagne wishes she’d known these things earlier. But, she hopes that since she’s been through this experience, others will hear these tips and not have the same fate that she did.

“I wish I knew how dangerous a boat propeller was,” Champagne said.

Champagne also wants to make caged propellers more common in Florida to protect people and wildlife alike.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Drew Hill
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