Maui boating accident renews calls for propeller guards

Maui boating accident renews calls for propeller guards

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A boating accident this weekend at the Pailolo Challenge canoe race that left a woman critically injured is reviving calls for mandatory propeller guards on motor boats.

Faith Kalei-Imaizumi suffered severe injuries to her thigh and groin Saturday when she jumped from an escort boat to retrieve her hat and was slashed by a propeller.

One witness said the accident could have been avoided had the boat been equipped with a protective guard.

"Honestly, on Maui, it would have 100 percent stopped her from being lacerated," said Ivan Shigaki, who was at the helm of a separate escort boat when the accident happened.

Some paddlers took to Facebook to express the need for more protections. Many called for mandatory propeller guards.

"One significant (advantage) is you're encasing the moving propeller blades from any kind of harm around ... marine turtles, paddlers or even swimmers," said Shigaki.

A bill that would have required the guards on all boats within 500 meters of the shoreline stalled in the state House this year.

It was introduced shortly after Kailua resident Sri Shim was killed in January by the propeller of a Zodiac inflatable boat near Lanikai Beach.

"How many lives would be saved?"said state Rep. Chris Lee (D-Kailua), who helped introduced the measure. "This was a step that would allow safer operations of boat and more safety especially those who might fall overboard."

But some boaters worry about the costs.

"Right now the boating community is against prop guards. Number one because of the cost factor. It would run anywhere from $500 to $2,500," said Shigaki.

They're also concerned about the loss of control, he said.

"It's like having limited steering and having no or little brakes," said Shigaki.

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