Parasailing Under Scrutiny As Accidents Proliferate
|By Colin Campbell, The Baltimore Sun|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Parasailing has grown in popularity in recent years, in places including
One of the sport's pioneers agrees that without such regulation, parasailing could go the way of bungee-jumping -- the industry crushed by prohibitive insurance costs.
If nothing is done, McCulloh said, "I believe the insurance [costs] will become so prohibitive that parasailing could disappear because it's uninsurable."
"Passengers seeking to enjoy the thrill, adventure and panoramic views of parasailing risk becoming accident victims," the NTSB said. "Due to the nature of parasailing, accidents usually result in either serious injury or death." The report cited no fatal accidents in
But the NTSB highlighted several incidents in its report, most of them in
In one case, a woman in
No accidents have been reported recently in
"Parasailing was slow last year," said
If the boat captains are doing their jobs properly, Myers said, "parasailing is one of the safest things you can do."
When they're not, the results can be disastrous.
"When accidents happen, it's because they're overflying -- they're being greedy," Andrew said. "There are guidelines. You're not supposed to fly in winds over 20 mph. They're flying in high winds and not monitoring the weather."
Andrew, who has owned his
Andrew said he would encourage additional regulation, because he said Sea Doos already practices safe parasailing. If lawmakers adopt the NTSB's regulatory recommendations, it could draw customers in, he said. "Maybe they'd feel more comfortable."
Andrew hopes lawmakers or regulators consult with operators if and when they're writing new safety rules.
Myers, who has been parasailing for 22 years, five of them over the
"Oh sure, but that's not going to stop them," he said. "There are just some captains -- whether they need the money or think they need the money -- who don't care."
Some of the industry's regulatory deficiencies are intrinsic to parasailing. A boat captain is under the jurisdiction of the
The overlap makes it difficult for the agencies to police captains operating unsafe parasailing businesses, McCulloh said.
The best place to begin, he said, is for the
A spokesman for the
In a statement, the
McCulloh, who has watched parasailing explode into a mainstream beach activity since the 1970s, said he planned to send a letter to the NTSB in response to the proposals, asking it to encourage the
"I think it should start with the NTSB," he said. "They've shot the warning shot. The next step would be getting into more of the details."
"What we have now is a disorganized, fractured community of parasail operators running by the seat of their pants," he said. "Federal regulations would bring unity in how people operate. We need continuity. Everybody needs to be doing the right thing."
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