FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – After several tragic deaths, a law was passed eight years ago to tighten restrictions on parasailing owners and captains.
But those in the industry say there needs to be more oversight by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Monday’s parasailing accident near Pigeon Key that killed a woman from Illinois and injured two children is raising concerns about safety in the industry.
For years, former state senator now Palm Beach County Commissioner Maria Sachs fought to enact parasailing regulations in Florida. In 2014, after several accidents and deaths, the White-Miskell Act she sponsored, named after two victims, went into effect.
“I did it in memory of those who lost their lives, and I also did it for the future of Florida,” Sachs said. “People and residents and tourists who want to come and enjoy our beautiful state and this wonderful sport of parasail.”
The law requires commercial parasailing operators to log weather conditions before passengers go in the air and prohibits parasailing during sustained winds of 20 mph or higher and during severe weather conditions.
It also requires operators to maintain a valid license and to carry a minimum insurance policy.
The accident that occurred Monday is similar to one that happened back in 2007 where 15-year-old Amber May White, who the law is partially named after, died after a line snapped on her parasail.
Her sister Crystal, who was 17 at the time, survived the accident. She suffered head and brain injuries.
Crystal told Local 10 News’ Sanela Sabovic that she thinks about her sister every day but more needs to be done to save lives.
Wayne Mascolo, president of Aloha Watersports, says there needs to be more oversight, but it all boils down to proper safety protocols.
“All of the sudden the weather changes, you can’t push that for one more flight, one more flight can kill somebody,” he said.
Mascolo also said that Monday afternoon he had to cancel several flights due to the bad weather that he saw moving into the Fort Lauderdale area that eventually made its way down south.