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Ocalan makes PSA for boating safety after mishap – News – Ocala.com

Hunter Bland, a tournament fisherman and member of the University of Florida Bass Fishing Team, feels glad to be alive after a boating mishap during a collegiate fishing tournament in January on Lake Seminole near Donalsonville, Georgia.

As the event kicked off around dawn on Jan. 17, Bland powered up the 150-horsepower outboard on the 18-foot bass boat and headed out at about 55 mph to participate in the tournament, which was sponsored by Fishing League Worldwide.

Without warning, the hydraulic steering system malfunctioned and the boat made a violent turn to the right. The extreme turn pitched him and his fishing partner and teammate, Conner Young, out of the boat and into the 51-degree water.

Bland said a loose nut evidently caused the steering system failure.

“It would be like driving down Interstate 75 and having your steering wheel come off. Due to the torque of the prop, the boat turned right,” Bland said in an interview Wednesday.

The boat had a GoPro camera and the video of the mishap has had 1.6 million views, Bland said. The video came be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AkgjPkCQXc.

Bland, an Ocala native, 2014 Vanguard High School IB graduate and a senior in Natural Resources at UF, credits his life being saved to wearing his personal flotation device — or life jacket — and using an emergency engine cutoff cord attached to his flotation device that activated an engine kill or stop switch when he was thrown out of the boat.

Bland said the extreme right turn threw him and nearly caused him to strike a seat with his head as he flew from the driver’s seat across the boat — which can be seen in the video — and then violently tossed him and his fishing partner Young, a Lake County resident and a senior mechanical engineering major at UF, out of the boat to the left side.

Bland said he was later checked for a concussion and was not injured.

The driverless boat circled back and went over Bland while…

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