JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville father was recovering in a hospital on Tuesday after he nearly lost his arm in a boating accident over the weekend.
James Raulerson said he was thrown from his boat on Sisters Creek on Saturday afternoon and his arm was caught in the propeller.
Raulerson told News4JAX that he has been fishing there every weekend for years and he never imagined nearly losing his arm doing what he loves the most: spending time out on the water.
“I’ve been extremely blessed. I don’t even know how I made it this far,” he said Tuesday.
Raulerson explained that he was heading in from fishing on Saturday when his 16-foot boat hit a big wake, which he said was from a larger boat that cut him off, and lost control.
“The nose of my boat plowed, and it turned left, and I was ejected immediately off the side of the boat,” Raulerson recounted. “And that’s when the propeller chewed my arm up.”
Raulerson said he was wearing a safety kill switch, but it did not activate. For 10 minutes, he said, he was left in the water screaming for help as his boat kept running in circles. Fortunately, Raulerson said, a father and son came to the rescue.
“A guy in a ranger boat, I seen down the bank, and I said, ‘Save me, save me,’” Raulerson said. “He came and got me.”
Raulerson was taken to shore and rushed to UF Health Jacksonville. Doctors saved his arm, which is now broken and with many stitches and screws. Despite needing more surgeries, including skin grafts, Raulerson said he is thankful.
“That’s the part I keep replaying in my head, like, what if my arm wasn’t up and I went head first you know? It could have — I don’t even wanna think about that,” Raulerson said.
The father of two said he is eager to recover so he can get back to work as a plumber, but most importantly, so he can get home to his family before Christmas.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help Raulerson and his family.
News4JAX reached out to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and a spokesperson said they are investigating the boating accident.
Safety tips for boaters
Raulerson wants his experience to be a reminder to always be vigilant on the water.
News4JAX talked with Freedom Boat Club owner Lisa Almeida, who said she always recommends having a second person onboard.
“That first mate is the lookout, helping the captain, ‘Hey, do you see that boat coming up or do you see that over there?’” Almeida said.
Almeida also said boaters have to always be responsible for their wake.
“So making sure if you’re in a slow zone, you’re going slow or that you’re not going too close to somebody else,” she said.