Boating Accidents

Champion Australian Water Skier Critically Injured During Competition


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Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. is comprised of attorneys that are nationally-recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of lawyers has over a century of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients.

water skiing accidentBoating accidents are extremely common around the world, even when experienced operators and professionals are involved.  And when it comes to water sports, accidents can be even more severe. High speed racing events can go awry at any minute, which is why it is critical to abide by the highest standards of safety. But even when safety is maintained, unpredictable accidents can occur.

A 21-year-old Australian champion water skier is in critical condition after suffering a serious injury during a racing event yesterday. The victim, Sarah Teelow, is receiving medical are at Royal North Shore Hospital while authorities investigate the accident. Police believe the crash resulted from another boat that had been sailing on the same channel, the Hawkesbury River, which may have created a wake.

Teelow was racing in the Formula 2 division of the Bridge to Bridge competition when she fell near the Mooney Mooney Bridge shortly after 10 am yesterday morning after hitting speeds of 140km/h. A friend of the victim who witnessed the crash said Teelow’s helmet had filled up with water, causing her head to be sobered for several minutes. She suffered serious head and spinal injuries.

The race was stopped immediately as paramedics rushed to help Teelow, who was crowned champion in the Formula 2 category at the World Water Ski Racing Championships in Spain just two months ago.

Teelow went into cardiac arrest after the fall but was resuscitated by paramedics. She is currently on life support but her friends and family are by her side, hoping this brave champion will pull through. Her mother, Tania Teelow, is a two-time world champion water skier. She too was involved in a high-speed water skiing accident that left her with neck and spinal injuries.

Though the cause of the accident remains unknown, police have reason to believe another speedboat that had been sailing in the opposite direction created a dangerous wake, contributing to the athlete’s fall. Other than the speed boat, conditions were good during the race, so authorities don’t have much else to attribute the accident to.

This just goes to show that even the most skilled of athletes can be involved in major accidents. Though authorities don’t believe the accident was caused by Teelow’s boat operator, perhaps the other speedboat in the vicinity was speeding, contributing to the accident.

Water skiing and jet skiing are extremely dangerous sports. Here in the U.S., states impose strict safety laws governing the use of personal watercrafts and water skiing activities, including the operation of tow boats because of the high risk of accidents and injuries.

Both water skiing and jet skiing activities can result in crashes, causing victims to be thrown into the water and suffer critical injuries. For jet skiers, victims can fall off and be run over by their same water craft. In both cases, victims can also sustain injuries from faulty equipment, obstacles in the water and other boaters in the area that are engaging in negligent activity, including speeding, Boating Under the Influence (BUI), or following another boater or personal watercraft user too closely.


Common causes of personal water craft accidents include:

  • Intoxication
  • Speeding
  • Operator inexperience
  • Distraction
  • Equipment failure
  • Unfavorable weather conditions


Regardless of whether the accident is the result of someone’s negligent actions or unforeseeable changes in weather or water conditions, anyone involved in a jet ski or water ski accident may suffer extensive injuries, including:


  • Neck injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Hypothermia
  • Lacerations
  • Fractures
  • Paralysis
  • Limb loss
  • Death

It is imperative that all personal watercraft users wear a lifejacket because critical injuries often cause victims to lose consciousness. Anyone involved in a skiing accident has the right to contact a boating accident attorney for assistance in filing a case and holding those responsible accountable for their wrongful actions.

Each state has its own maritime laws and an experienced lawyer will know exactly how to handle the case and protect a victim’s rights, especially in the event that another boat operator’s negligent actions led to a wrongful death. But while accidents can happen to anyone, the large majority of accidents result from careless boating. Statistics show that around 50% of all fatal boating accidents involve drunk boat operators. When alcohol is suspected to be a factor in a water ski or jet ski accident, victims may be able to file a negligence lawsuit and obtain damages for their pain and suffering, and an attorney skilled in maritime and admiralty law will know how to best approach the matter in order to secure a favorable outcome for victims and their loved ones.

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