Make us your home page
Instagram

Families, lawmakers push for parasailing regulation (w/ video)

TALLAHASSEE — Crystal White was enjoying a parasailing adventure with her sister Amber in Pompano Beach on a summer day in 2007 when something went horribly wrong. The wind picked up, pulled the boat to shore and the rope attaching the parasail to the boat snapped. The two young girls were first slammed into a beach hotel and then a tree.

White, now 24, sustained head trauma and other injuries but survived. Amber died two days later, just before her 16th birthday.

"We can't let this happen to someone else," said the girls' mother, a tearful Shannon Hively.

She was joined by Crystal at a news conference Thursday to push for legislation to regulate the parasail industry. Alexis Fairchild, 17, who sustained brain injuries in a parasail accident in Panama City last July, Alexis' mother, Angelia, and the bill's sponsors, Sen. Maria Sachs and Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed, were also at the event.

Hively has been trying to get a bill passed for years, but Sachs, D-Delray Beach, and Clarke-Reed, D-Pompano Beach, say they have support this session from Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senate President Don Gaetz and the parasail industry.

After Thursday's news conference, the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries passed SB 320 by a vote of 9-0, with several members wiping their eyes after the parasailing accident victims and their mothers provided their testimony. The House version passed the Business and Professional Regulation Subcommittee 12-0 on Feb. 4.

Visitors "trust the state of Florida to have water sports and amusement parks that will be suitable and safe for their children," Sachs said, describing parasailing as an unregulated industry. Sachs said the proposed bill would institute "common sense regulations." Among them:

• Ensure that all operators have a minimum insurance requirement of $1 million.

• Keep boats from operating when winds are above 20 mph, gusts of wind are 15 mph or greater and there's a lightning storm within 7 miles.

• Require weather equipment on each vessel with access to up-to-date forecasts.

"The No. 1 risk in parasailing is weather," Sachs said.

The Parasail Safety Council, which has tracked injuries and deaths nationwide for 30 years, reports 73 people were killed and at least 1,600 injured between 1982 and 2012 during an estimated 150 million parasail rides.

Florida has roughly 120 parasail operators, considered the largest number in the country, said the council's founder, Mark McCulloh, a parasail inventor and safety expert.

Amber White, 15, left, died after a ’07 parasailing crash in Pompano Beach. Sister Crystal, then 17, survived.

Miami Herald (2007)

Amber White, 15, left, died after a ’07 parasailing crash in Pompano Beach. Sister Crystal, then 17, survived.

Families, lawmakers push for parasailing regulation (w/ video) 02/13/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 13, 2014 9:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In your 20s and living with mom and dad? In Florida, you're not alone.

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — After graduating from the University of Florida in 2015, Gabrielle Piloto jumped on the highway and headed south to Tampa.

    Gabrielle Piloto, 22, moved home to live with her grandparents in West Tampa after graduating from the University of Florida in 2015. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]

  2. Senate leaders unveil bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act

    Health

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans, who have promised a repeal of the Affordable Care Act for seven years, took a major step on Thursday toward that goal, unveiling a bill to cut Medicaid deeply and end the health law's mandate that most Americans have health insurance.

    U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill's chief author, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has said "Obamacare is collapsing around us, and the American people are desperately searching for relief." [AP]
  3. Southwest Airlines to offer flights from Tampa to San Diego

    Airlines

    TAMPA — Southwest Airlines will offer new nonstop service from Tampa International Airport to San Diego International Airport beginning Jan. 8, 2018.

    Southwest Airlines is planning to launch service from Tampa to San Diego.
[Times file photo]
  4. Tampa Bay homes values continue to rise along with sales prices

    Real Estate

    For the second month in a row, Tampa Bay had one of the highest year -over-year increases in home values in May, Zillow reported today.

    For the second month in a row, Tampa Bay had one of the highest year -over-year increases in home values in May, Zillow reported Thursday.
[Times file photo]
  5. Busy start has Florida Hospital Center Ice dreaming big

    Tourism

    WESLEY CHAPEL — Opening day brought 600 doctors, administrators and their families from Florida Hospital. Soon after that, the facility hosted its first junior league game and a collegiate showdown. A few weeks later, 200 kids, ages 4 to 9, participated in national Learn to Play Hockey Day.

    Alex Senushkin and his grandson, Styopa Kulshyn, 3, of Lakeland, skate at the Florida Hospital Center Ice rink in Wesley Chapel.
[CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]