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An accident that should never have happened

Posted By Jennifer Handley, February 27, 2014
SV Time Piece
On February 18, 2014 John Spicher on SV Time Piece was very badly injured, doing what John can usually be found doing... helping someone else.  In this case another boater in the anchorage was operating his very large (15-17') dinghy with a large outboard (30-40 HP) but without wearing his safety kill switch lanyard.  He, for whatever reason, was thrown from the boat.  The aforementioned kill switch lanyard would have immediately turned off the motor (had it been engaged).  Instead, the situation quickly became that of a run-away dinghy spinning wildly in circles, with the owner/operator in the water and no longer in control.

John quickly jumped into his dinghy and went to pull the man from the water, all the time watching the run-away dinghy carefully.  John managed to get the swimmer into his dinghy and was making his way back to shore, when the run-away boat struck an anchored sailboat, and changed course... directly at John.  The runaway dinghy ran right over the top of John, throwing him and his newly acquired passenger into the water.  John was not immediately aware that his left foot, ankle, and lower left leg had been struck by the prop, leaving it very   badly mangled. 

Then, to add injury to insult, the run-away (still spinning in deadly circles) ran right back over John just as he got back into his dinghy.  This time, it landed right on top of him and pinned him down.  He was not hit by the prop this time, but in pushing the boat away and off of himself, he landed back in the water again. John was rescued by another local Mexican Captain who helped stop the bleeding (an artery had been severed), got him to the beach and arranged for an ambulance.

By 2 PM that afternoon, with Jeanne Walker (SV Eagle) accompanying him, John was on a medevac flight to UCSD (University of California, San Diego) trauma centre.

John SpicherToday at the time of posting, we have learned that unfortunately John lost his foot and lower portion of his left leg in surgery yesterday.  This is very sad news for such a brave young man. He has been released from hospital and will be going home with his brother.  John now faces months of recovery time and equipment. The support of friends and the sailing community has been strong and will need to continue to help with the accumulating costs.

He has a long road ahead of him.  As well, the cost for his care and recovery will be high.

A PayPal account has been established for those of us who wish to make a donation to help him cover the many expenses that are occurring.

and can also be reached via   

Further information about John and his recovery is also available on

BCA will keep monitoring John's recovery and keep you informed.

Photos courtesy of Jeanne Walker.

Tags:  boating accident  John Spicher  kill switch lanyard 

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Carolyn Daley says...
Posted February 28, 2014
I am a member of BCA and a friend of John's... He and his family have asked me to convey their sincere thanks to the members of BCA for taking an interest in John's story. Your support means a great deal to them. The cruising family is a close one indeed... Thank you from me as well, for any support you can offer John during his lengthy recovery.

Carolyn Daley
SV Shannon
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