Ocean City Today

Woman treated, released from PRMC after prop strike

Victim struck by pontoon propeller when she went overboard on Saturday trip
By Brian Gilliland | Jul 20, 2017

(July 21, 2017) A woman was treated and released from Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury after sustaining cuts to her back, leg and foot from a rented pontoon boat’s propeller after she fell overboard and was run over by the vessel on Saturday.

Alexa Delatorre, 22, from Morgantown, West Virginia was one of six young women on board the boat near 49th Street bayside on Saturday afternoon. Delatorre was not riding on the bow of the boat, but was dancing near the front of it when she lost her footing, stumbled and fell over the front gate, Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candy Thomson said.

She fell between the pontoons, and was run over.

Thomson said her group lost sight of her for a few seconds until she emerged from the water screaming. One of her companions jumped into the water and pulled her back aboard.

The other five occupants were women between the ages of 21-25, Thomson said. Though there was alcohol on board, the driver passed sobriety tests and it was not believed to be a factor in the fall, Thomson said.

“She had deep lacerations on her back, leg and right foot,” Thomson said. “She’s a very lucky person.”

Last summer, a nine-year-old Howell, New Jersey boy was killed under similar circumstances. However, the boy was “bow riding,” or seated outside the railings up forward on the boat, when the accident occurred. The propeller struck the boy several times.

Coast Guard, Natural Resources Police and local officials made bow riding the centerpiece of its public safety campaign this year, called “Ride Inside.”

“This is an all-hands-on deck campaign,” Col. Robert “Ken” Ziegler, superintendent of the Natural Resources Police, said at the kickoff event in May. “You wouldn’t let a family member ride on the hood of your car,” so logically, he continued, an operator shouldn’t allow anyone to ride on the bow of a boat.

Bow riding is illegal in the state, as part of the negligent operation subheading of the code, but is not enforceable by police on its own. State Sen. Jim Mathias and Del. Mary Beth Carozza both introduced legislation to fix the situation earlier this year, but neither bill made it out of committee.

“So far this season, we’ve been lucky. We’ve had just three fatalities in the entire state, and none in the Ocean City region. Last year at this time we already had six,” Thomson said.


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