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Longboat Key tourist's parasailing death ruled a drowning

A tourist who died after a parasailing accident earlier this summer drowned, an autopsy showed.

South Carolina resident David Richard Sieradzki, 31, died June 27 about a mile off Longboat Key after his parasail drifted down into the water when the boat pulling him lost speed. Although he fell from as high as 800 feet, officials said Sieradzki, who was wearing a life jacket and was known to be a good swimmer, landed fine. Witnesses even saw him waving his hands.

But by the time Sieradzki was pulled up into the boat, he was dead.

Dr. Russell Vega, chief medical examiner for Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties, determined Sieradzki drowned. Vega ruled the death an accident.

"We're presuming he lost consciousness," Vega said Friday, adding that investigators ruled out several other factors that could cause a drowning, including physical injury, weather, intoxication and entanglement of the parasailing equipment.

There also was no evidence Sieradzki suffered a concussion, Vega said. Yet an autopsy showed he did have a mildly enlarged heart, which could have caused an arrhythmia. Heart arrhythmias themselves, which can be precipitated by stress, can cause unconsciousness, Vega said.

"Unfortunately, there's just no way to determine what risk factor caused him to drown," he said.

Sieradzki was the second tourist to die in a parasailing incident off Florida's west coast within the past year. Alejandra White, 27, of Georgia was killed in September when a rope snapped while she and her fiance parasailed along Clearwater Beach.

Longboat Key tourist's parasailing death ruled a drowning 08/26/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 26, 2011 10:31pm]
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