Experts

Safety Experts Warn About Recreational Boats With Potentially Dangerous Flaws

Safety experts warn boats with potentially dangerous flaws are getting on the water.

Two families in Florida and California were changed instantly by horrific boating accidents.

  • Watch Consumer Investigative Reporter Susan Hogan’s special report on News4 at 4, 5, 6 and 11.

“I just remember feeling that anxiety of fight or flight, I’m going to be planning her funeral, then, No I’m not, she’s not going to die,” said Cindy Bell, whose daughter, Niki, was washed overboard and struck in the head by a propeller four times in 2006.

Consumer Investigation Into Recreational Boats

“The first night, you’re just thinking it’s impossible to survive, so you’re thinking about ending it,” said Meg Batchelder, of Lake Worth, Florida, whose 7-year-old son died three years ago when the boat he was in took on water and he became stuck in the propeller. “There’s no end, I thought.”

Their stories exposed surprising details about the recreational boating industry. News4 learned the government doesn’t closely watch boat manufacturers or rigorously tests new boat designs.

Unlike cars, boats are manufactured with very few regulations, according to safety expert Sean Kane.

There are some checks and balances when it comes to designing and testing these boats. Trade organizations set standards, and most manufacturers say they follow them. But safety experts warn those standards are voluntary.

“Because there’s no federal oversight and because industry organizations don’t have enough standards in place, either, and they’re voluntary, you end up with safety problems like this,” Kane said.

A lawsuit brought by Ryan’s family questions who is designing the boats and testing them.

Published at 5:45 AM EDT on Aug 16, 2017 | Updated 2 hours ago

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