A 12-year-old girl whose leg got caught in boat propellers was recovering Friday after undergoing surgery to repair her mangled limb.
The girl, whose name hasn't been released, was tubing with five friends and an unrelated adult when the accident occurred about 2 p.m. Thursday in the Chesapeake Bay, police said. She was trying to climb into the boat, a 24-foot Grady-White, when her leg got caught, said Officer Jimmy Barnes, a police spokesman.
A team of medics, firefighters and police responded, keeping the girl's head above water while working beneath the boat to unbolt the dual propellers embedded in her leg. It took about 90 minutes to free her.
The Nightingale helicopter ambulance transported the girl to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where she was recovering Friday. Doctors were able to save her leg, Barnes said.
The girl had been scared, but was tough, said Amy Mack, a firefighter paramedic who helped keep the girl afloat.
"She was a very strong girl," she said.
The girl's family declined interview requests through a Sentara spokeswoman.
The Police Department's Marine Patrol Unit is investigating.
Nationwide, boat propellers injured 51 people last year, according to the Coast Guard's Recreational Boating Statistics. One person died in a propeller-related accident.
Incidents such as Thursday's have led advocacy groups - such as the Propeller Guard Information Center in Oklahoma and Stop Propeller Injuries Now in California - to seek better safety guards on propellers. They track injuries, push for stricter regulations, and promote the development of safety gear, such as sensors that would stop a propeller if someone got too close.