Should parasailing companies be regulated?

Several attempts to regulate industry in Florida have failed

Author: Roger Lohse, Reporter, rlohse@Local10.com
Published On: Aug 16 2012 06:24:14 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 16 2012 10:56:42 PM EDT
Parasailing
PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. -

Wednesday’s fatal parasailing accident in Pompano Beach has brought attention to the fact that parasailing companies operate with very little oversight from the state of Florida.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, there are between 70 and 120 parasailing companies in Florida, but several attempts to regulate the industry have failed.

“We kind of knew that this, unfortunately, was going to happen again," said Plantation attorney Jason Chalik.

Chalik wants to know if tighter state control of Florida's parasailing industry would have prevented the accident that killed Kathleen Miskell, 28. The Connecticut woman was parasailing with her husband off Pompano Beach when officials say her harness malfunctioned. She fell nearly 150 feet into the water and was killed.

Chalik represented the family of a teenage girl who was killed in a parasailing accident five years ago and said he was surprised to learn then that these water sports companies pretty much fly solo.

According to the FWC, parasailing companies are only required to have an observer onboard, stay off-shore, and their passengers must wear a life vest. The companies don't even have to have insurance.

"When you have a dangerous activity like this, there should be some minimal guidelines, safety requirements," Chalik told Local 10’s Roger Lohse.

State Representative Jim Frishe, (R-St. Petersburg), tried to change that during the 2012 legislative session. His bill would have required parasailing companies to use lines rated to tow at least 4,800 pounds, have a weather radio onboard at all times, conduct safety briefings with passengers before they fly, and carry at least $1 million in insurance.

But Frishe said that his bill never got off the ground. He said it couldn't float in Tallahassee's current anti-business regulation climate.

"I think it was basically the result of the Speaker of the House sending down word to his committee chairman that he didn't want to hear any bills that included any new regulation," said Frishe. "There are some basic standards, how you operate and what materials you use that the public expects to be present."