Personal watercraft crash injuries: An emerging problem

David V Shatz, Orlando C. Kirton, Mark G. McKenney, Enrique Ginzburg, Patricia M. Byers, Jeffrey S. Augenstern, Danny Sleeman, Zenobrio Agnila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: The increased popularity of personal watercraft (PWC) has resulted in an increase in PWC-related injuries. In an effort to better understand the problem, a retrospective review of 37 victims of such injuries seen at a Level I trauma center and fatalities examined by the medical examiner were analyzed. Results: Fourteen percent of the victims were passengers, two of whom were struck from behind, resulting in severe injuries. Twelve patients died of their injuries. For six victims, the cause of death was drowning; only one of these victims was wearing a personal flotation device. Two patients sustained transected aortas, 20% had brain injuries, 20% had spinal fractures, and 48% had skeletal and skull fractures. Abdominal organ injuries were present in only 13.5% of the victims, but they were significant, with liver, spleen, and kidney lacerations and aortic and renal artery injuries. Conclusion: In this population of victims of PWC crashes meeting preestablished trauma criteria or on-scene deaths, injuries were significant. Many of the drowning deaths may have been prevented with the use of personal flotation devices. The potential for serious intra- abdominal injury must be recognized and dealt with appropriately.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-201
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Jetski
  • Personal watercraft
  • Waverunner

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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