Parasailing Accidents Raise Questions About Safety


In Florida, where roughly 240 parasailing operators are in business, Kraus and several state legislators have pressed for parasailing safety regulations. For the past four years, the proposed legislation has gone nowhere.

The Federal Aviation Administration has some jurisdiction over parasailing. Parasails are considered "heavy kites," and as such there are limits on how high they can go and how close they can be to an active airport. But the FAA does not insect the equipment.

Shortly after the latest fatal accident, ABC News joined a parasailing outing leaving from Belmar, N.J. On the way out to sea, the boat's operator, Tom Brown, briefed the half dozen vacationers on board about the day's venture and what to do if anything wen awry.

Brown said he's been in the business 27 years and never had a mishap.

Several of the people about to parasail said they had heard of the Florida accident a few days earlier but were undetected.

"I feel it's 100 percent safe," said one teenaged boy about to parasail for the second time in his life.

A short while later, he was aloft, dangling about 100 feet above the ocean. Afterward, he pronounced his adventure great fun.

The Parasailing Safety Council estimates that there have been 137 million rides in this country in the last 30 years. Accidents are rare. Fatalities are extremely rare.

But sometimes things can wrong; sometimes -- as happened to Amber May White -- tragically wrong because of what her mother insists was a failure of equipment that no safety regulator had ever laid eyes on.

"People keep dying. People keep getting injured," she said. "I'm angered."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...