Lawmakers seek to limit parasail accidents

Posted: December 10, 2013 by kirisyko in Parasailing, Water
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Laura Pasnik, left, and Manuela Rosati go parasailing at Ponce Inlet.

News Journal file photo

Two lawmakers have proposed setting safety standards for parasailing, a move that could not only cut down on the threat of deaths and injuries to participants but save operators from skyrocketing insurance rates and a growing negative perception of the sport found in many of Florida’s coastal communities, including Volusia County.

“We’re making our best efforts to ensure this activity is as safe as it possibly can be,” said Larry Meddock, executive director of Water Sports Industry Association.

Under legislation proposed by state Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, and state Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed, D-Deerfield Beach, operators would be prohibited from parasailing in sustained winds of 20 mph or greater or with gusts of more than 25 mph, among other requirements. State records show at least 20 parasailing accidents in Florida since 2001, resulting in 20 injuries and six deaths.

“These incidents show we need to do something right now,” Clarke-Reed said.

Lawmakers in 2008 first introduced a bill to regulate the parasailing industry after the death of 15-year-old Amber White in 2007 while parasailing with her sister in Pompano Beach. The two crashed into a building after a burst of wind snapped the tow line.

In September 2010, 27-year old Alejandra White was killed while parasailing off Clearwater Beach when high winds snapped the line connecting her parachute to the towboat. In 2012, Kathleen Miskell, 28, was killed in Pompano Beach when her harness broke and she fell 150 to 200 feet into the water.

“We can only hope and pray that was the final accident for a long, long time,” Meddock said.

Similar legislation in 2011 and 2012 failed to garner support from lawmakers, but Sachs believes her efforts will not fall short this year because “it was written by the profession,” she said.

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