The U. S. Department of Justice revealed that a 45-year Pennsylvania captain with a boat towing a parasail plead guilty to a maritime negligence in a parasailing accident that killed two women in North Carolina. The 45-year-old boat captain was accused of failing to check the weather before taking his clients out on the parasailing ride which killed 60-year-old Cynthia Woodcock and 45-year-old Lorrie Shoup in August of 2009.
The Parasailing Accident
According to authorities, a strong gust of wind blew up while they were in the air being towed, snapping the line connecting the parasail to the tow boat “tied high”. The wind then slammed the women into the ocean and dragged them towards the town’s fishing pier. The women died from blunt force trauma.
If you have ever been a witness to parasailing, it looks like one of the most enjoyable, serene, and calm activities one can imagine. Yet the unimaginable dangers that occur are never really given a second thought. Operating a parasail in adverse weather such as rain, fog, or high wind conditions tremendously increase the risk of a parasailing accident. In fact, it is most likely that wind conditions are far greater at altitude rather than on the ground which most of us never think of.
Unfortunately, many parasailing companies are highly unregulated just like most other businesses who try to maximize profits carrying out operations in weather conditions or with inadequate or unsafe equipment that could potentially lead to a catastrophic parasailing accident.
Remember, you will be debriefed prior to the parasailing ride. However, unless you have an excellent memory and something goes wrong while you are airborne, it is impossible to clearly communicate your status to the crew taking into account that you are hundreds of feet in the air in windy conditions.
As an experienced amusement park accident attorney who has investigated a number of parasailing accidents, I am all too familiar with the dangers of catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths that occur in this highly unregulated industry.