When Kathleen Miskell took a parasailing ride that turned fatal Wednesday, the boat operator was required to have a simple occupational license – and only a business permit was needed for the parasailing.
“When I go to the beach and I see people up in the air, I pray for them, because I know as a practitioner that there is no regulation, and these entities are not required to be insured,” said Broward attorney David Fuchs, who is an expert in personal injury cases.
Fuchs says fun is paramount and almost no one halts their vacation to investigate their upcoming thrill ride. But when it comes to parasailing, that is a big mistake, he said.
“In the parasailing industry the industry has no requirement to carry a minimum liability coverage. So when someone goes to parasail, they have no notice of the fact that the company that they are about to give their life to has no insurance to pay them for any injuries that they may sustain in the air,” Fuchs said.
Miskell was parasailing tandem with her husband off Pompano Beach when her harness broke and she fell between 150 and 200 feet into the water, authorities said. The 28-year-old Connecticut woman went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at Broward Health North a short time later.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating.
“We’re looking at the parachute, we’re looking at the ropes that were used to try to get a better picture of and understand the dynamics of this accident,” said Officer Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the agency.
Zachary Chandler, the owner of the boat’s operator, WaveBlast Water Sports, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for inspecting the boat Miskell boarded. But the harness, ropes and other gear are not check by the county, state or federal government. The Federal Aviation Administration sets rules on the airspace parasailers can use, but does not inspect harnesses.
“This lady should be alive today because if we had the regulations in place to check these harnesses inside and out – because there are buckles inside and out — then she would be alive today to have enjoyed her parasail,” Pompano Beach Mayor Lamar Fisher said.
A proposed parasailing law in the Legislature last spring called for owners to have insurance that covers any accident, injury or death; have a Coast Guard license; and use only safety-rated towlines. There were no specifics for harnesses in the bill, which was defeated.