McCulloh said in a tandem flight, it’s hard to believe that only half would break. There could have been other issues that led to the accident, such as the harness being too large for Miskell, or a belt clip breaking.
Wednesday’s accident is not the first time someone has been killed while parasailing in Pompano Beach.
In August 2007, 15-year-old Amber White died when a sudden gust of wind snapped the line and sent Amber and her sister hurtling across the beach and into a nearby building. The boat operator was criticized for ignoring an oncoming storm.
In 2001, a mother and daughter from Kentucky vacationing in Fort Myers Beach died when the harness yoke carrying them snapped in an afternoon storm. Lisabeth Bailey-Straney and 13-year-old Taylor Straney fell 200 feet into shallow water in the Gulf of Mexico.
In July 1997, two Virginia teenagers were struck by lightning while parasailing in Naples. The teens suffered second- and third-degree burns from the strike.
In June 2010, a father and his 6-year-old daughter suffered bumps and bruises when their parasail malfunctioned and bounced them across the water and into the sea wall near Miami’s Bayside Marketplace.
Between 1992 and 2001, there were 59 parasailing accidents nationally resulting in 64 injuries and three deaths, according to a study by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Currently, there are no state or federal regulations that apply specifically to parasailing. The boats are governed by the same licensing rules that apply to all commercial vessels. The Professional Association of Parasail Operators also has its own safety recommendations, such as inspecting tow lines daily for damage and requiring passengers to be at least 6 years old.
After Amber White’s death, state Sen. Gwen Margolis drafted a bill requiring parasail operators to stay more than 2,000 feet from shore; requiring them to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance and to stay off the water when the wind is stronger than 20 knots. But that bill, and a similar one introduced in 2011, failed.
Jason Chalik, an attorney who has handled about six parasail injury or death cases in the last three years, including White’s case, said the biggest frustration is the lack of regulations.
“A lot of times it’s just a guy on a boat looking to make money,” he said.
McCulloh said his group has also pushed for changes.
“It’s fallen on deaf ears,” he said “How many people have to die before they do something?”