USCG: Severe Weather & Distance From Shore Factors In Accident

Coast Guard Releases Preliminary Report On Parasailing Accident (VIDEO)

By Eric Dutkiewicz
By Emily Dwire
By Rachel Martin

July 20, 2013 Updated Jul 20, 2013 at 10:15 PM EDT

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (www.incnow.tv) – The U.S. Coast Guard says severe weather and the boat being too far from shore were “substantial factors” in a July 1 parasailing accident that injured two Roanoke teens.

The Coast Guard’s preliminary investigation found the Why Not boat from which Alexis Fairchild and Sidney Good launched was about 300 yards from shore when the rope of the parasail the girls were riding broke.

Alexis and Sidney crashed into a Panama City Beach, Fla., condominium, fell through power lines and landed on top of cars in the condominium parking lot.

“While there are no regulations that prescribe specific weather parameters for parasail operations,” the Coast Guard report says, “the Coast Guard is urging mariners to carefully monitor prevailing and predicted weather conditions and tailor operations accordingly.”

The Coast Guard says the parasailing accident is an on-going investigation conducted jointly with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Results of tests on the parasailing equipment are still being analyzed.

National Transportation Safety Board is also assisting in the investigation, the Coast Guard says.

In the weeks since the crash, both Sidney & Alexis have been discharged from a Panama City hospital, and continue their recovery in Indianapolis. Sidney underwent successful facial surgery Thursday. Alexis is taking physical therapy at a rehabilitation hospital.

U.S. Coast Guard Preliminary Report On Parasailing Accident
”PANAMA CITY, Fla. — The Coast Guard continues its investigation into the cause of a parasail accident that occurred off Panama City Beach July 1.

“While the investigation is still ongoing, investigators have made the following preliminary findings:

“Initial findings indicate that the severe weather encountered by the Why Knot, and the vessel's proximity to shore which was approximately 300 yards, were substantial factors in the Why Knot's loss of control of the parasail and the parasail's subsequent path of travel once separated from the vessel. While there are no regulations that prescribe specific weather parameters for parasail operations, the Coast Guard is urging mariners to carefully monitor prevailing and predicted weather conditions and tailor operations accordingly. Parasail operators need to be especially cognizant of weather conditions on both the surface and at operating altitudes, and remain well within the rated parameters of on board equipment, with adequate safe margins for control and safe recovery of passengers.

“The U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissionare running concurrent investigations, sharing information and interviewing numerous witnesses, and collecting evidence and data. With the assistance from the National Transportation Safety Board, investigators conducted operational load testing of the parasail equipment. Investigators will continue to conduct further detailed analysis and testing of the parasail line. The purpose of the Coast Guard’s investigation is to identify contributing factors that led to the accident and take appropriate measures to prevent reoccurrence.

“On the afternoon of July 1, Panama City Beach Fire Department, Bay County Sheriff’s Office, FWC, the Coast Guard and other local emergency services responded to an accident involving the uninspected passenger vessel Why Knot conducting parasail operations off Panama City Beach with two teenage sisters aboard. The resulting accident critically injured both girls and caused significant damage, including damage to a condominium and vehicles in the parking lot.”

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