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Parasailing Dangers and Safety Tips

It seems that Florida is the scene of another parasailing accident nearly every year. Anyone considering parasailing needs to be aware that it is virtually unregulated. Learn about the potential dangers and tragedies that some individuals have experienced while parasailing.

The Parasail Safety Council estimates there were more than 384 parasailing accidents across the United States from 1980 through 2009, 83 resulting in serious injuries and 28 in death.

On August 18, 2007, 15-year-old Amber White and her 17-year-old sister Crystal decided to experience their first parasailing ride while on vacation at Pompano Beach, Florida. Despite National Weather Service warnings about high winds and high seas, the parasailing company still took them up over the Atlantic Ocean. The girls were more than 500 feet in the air when winds pulled them toward the beach. The line snapped, catapulting the sisters onto the rooftop of a nearby hotel. Amber died, and Crystal experienced significant head trauma.

Attorney John Leighton, founding partner of Leighton Law, represented their mother, Shannon Kraus. They now work together, pushing the Florida Legislature to pass parasailing safety legislation, including the Amber May Act, now known as the White-Miskell Act. Another victim, Elizabeth Miskell, took a side-by-side parasailing ride with her husband during a Florida vacation. Her harness malfunctioned, resulting in her tragically falling 200 feet into the Atlantic Ocean.

Loss of control of the towrope results in some of the worst parasailing injuries, catapulting parasailing riders into buildings and other fixed objects. Those landing in water sometimes die, still strapped in their harness.

Parasailing deaths and injuries continue to increase while Florida’s Legislature seems reluctant to pass safety legislation that would require owners of vessels that engage in commercial parasailing to 1) have liability insurance, 2) establish procedures to check equipment, and 3) avoid parasailing under unsafe conditions.

The Parasail Safety Council offers parasailing safety tips including:

  • Licensing – Make sure you parasail with a company that is fully licensed with both state and local licensure.
  • Established Operators – Parasail only with established business operators. Ask how long they’ve been in business and other relevant questions.
  • High Winds and Visibility – Never parasail during high winds, rain, fog or an approaching storm.
  • Types of Equipment – Educate yourself on different types of equipment and passenger support devices.

Learn more about parasailing accidents from Leighton Law. Mr. Leighton is there for victims of parasailing accidents and their families, while pushing for enactment of parasailing safety regulations.

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