Woman falls off bow of boat and gets sucked under it into propeller, Florida cops say

Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office photo

A tourist was seriously hurt near Destin, Florida, when she got sucked under a moving pontoon boat — straight into its spinning propellers, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

It happened Monday, July 25, west of Crab Island in the intracoastal waterway, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. Crab Island is about 45 miles east of Pensacola.

The injury occurred as the 22-year-old woman sat on the front of the boat while it was moving, officials said.

“A pontoon boat she was bow riding on, with her feet in the water, hit a wave,” the sheriff’s office said.

“The motion pulled her into the water and under the boat, where she was struck by the propeller.”

She reappeared at the back of the boat, with “multiple very deep lacerations to her arm,” witnesses said.

“OCSO Marine units arrived and applied a tourniquet for the severe bleeding, helping with her treatment until Okaloosa Emergency Medical Services ... arrived,” the sheriff’s office said.

“We send our sincere wishes for her recovery from the trauma. And we want to remind everyone to please use caution on the water. A fun day of boating can turn tragic very quickly.”

The identity of the woman and her condition have not been released as of July 27.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the incident.

Standard boating guidance advises people to avoid sitting at the front of a pontoon boat while it is underway, the sheriff’s office said.

Crab Island is a man-made sandbar that is a popular gathering spot for boaters and swimmers. However, the area is considered dangerous due to heavy boat traffic, strong currents and sudden drop-offs, the sheriff’s office says. Multiple people die at the site each year, including at least two this year.

In May, a man jumped off a stalled pontoon boat and drowned after being swept away by the current, McClatchy News reported. In June, the body of a missing swimmer was found west of the island with “a traumatic injury,” McClatchy reported.

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