Woman dies after leg severed by boat propeller at Lake Pleasant

MCSO said Tenanah was hit by the boat's propeller after jumping into the water.
MCSO said Tenanah was hit by the boat's propeller after jumping into the water.(Arizona's Family)
Published: May. 21, 2022 at 6:26 PM PDT|Updated: May. 22, 2022 at 3:15 PM PDT
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LAKE PLEASANT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — A woman has died after her leg was cut off in a boating accident at Lake Pleasant Saturday. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said 32-year-old Tehanah Smith was hit by the boat’s propeller after jumping into the water. Firefighters originally said that it happened while waterskiing but deputies later said that wasn’t the case. One witness said he saw a tube in the water. She was flown to a nearby hospital where she later died.

Jon Musa said he was boating with his family when his wife and daughter heard a loud scream. “I saw people waving, obviously in an emergency. I swung around (the boat) and approached and came up to where there captain was,” said Musa. “He was obviously in panic, having a difficult time of it and when I came to the rear of the boat, I saw the young lady laying on the swim platform of the boat.”

Musa said she was not moving, likely due to shock. His family called 911 and they went to the North Ramp where they met emergency personnel. MCSO says the boat Smith was on was privately owned. There were no signs of impairment or foul play, deputies said.

Scorpion Bay Marina is one of the locations at Lake Pleasant where you can rent boats, only needing a driver’s license. “We provide an orientation for that. You have to be over 18, and we go through the different safety protocols, make sure the individual understands how to use the boat,” said Heather Austin, a public relations specialist for Scorpion Bay Marina. “We go through the different safety signals and buoys and different markers at the lake because sometimes there is confusion about does this mean shallow water? What is a no wake zone?”

Austin says the designated captain of the boat is also walked around and shown the safety features before hitting the water. “The lake can be a wonderful place to be to spend a day with your friends or family but you do have to take that responsibility seriously. Anytime you’re on any body of water, you need to take that seriously,” Austin said.

Ultimately, the boat captain is responsible for everyone on the boat and in the water. Austin also said there should be a water watcher. “Whether it’s a tube, a waterski, wake surf, wakeboard, kneeboard, make sure they’re not in distress, they’re doing alright and they’re keeping an eye when someone’s in the water and they’re back safely on the boat,” Austin said. “That captain is also making sure people are hydrated and that there’s (sic) any signs there’s heat exhaustion or heat stroke or anything like that that they’re really keeping an eye on everyone in the boat and they’re not only making sure they have a good time but they make it back safely.”

Austin said boaters need to know how to get in and out of the boat. “Different boats have different regulations and the way they’re set up as far as where you enter and exit the boat so first of all, just make sure you’re getting on and off the boat in the place you’re supposed to,” Austin said. “When you have someone in the water, someone getting ready to water ski or wakeboard or wake surf, make sure that when they’re in the water, you let that rope stretch all the way out. You make sure it’s taunt before you throttle up.”