In the 40 years since parasails began showing up in popular vacation spots like those in Florida and along the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach, 73 people have died and 429 others have been hospitalized as a result of parasailing accidents.

According to the Parasail Safety Council, an organization that claims to provide unbiased information, most fatalities result from the parasailors’ inability to escape or evacuate from a harness following an unplanned water landing in high winds.

The parasailing industry claims that during the past four decades, there have been 130 million rides that tell a story of safety and self-regulation. However, there is no central data bank to check safety records and inspections of parasail operators.

Two 17-year-olds were critically injured after slamming into a building and crashing to the ground while parasailing in Florida this summer. What happened to these girls has happened to hundreds of others. Strong winds break the tow line and leave the rider with no method to control the parasail.

Not too long ago, a South Carolina man was killed in a parasailing accident in Longboat Key, Fla. The 31-year-old was harnessed by an 800-foot rope to the parasailing boat, which lost power and knocked the tourist into the water, about a mile offshore.

Closer to home, two women died in a 2009 parasailing accident off the coast of Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina near the South Carolina border. A final investigative report on the accident, released by the Coast Guard in May 2013, states there is substantial evidence the owner and master of the small boat “contributed acts of negligence and/or misconduct” that contributed to the deaths.

The accident prompted the City of Myrtle Beach to tighten restrictions on parasailing. The regulations require parasailing operators to maintain a minimum distance of at least 600 yards from any surf zone or shoreline, fly no more than 500 feet above ground or water; and follow right-of-way practices. Parasailing is prohibited in rain, heavy fog or sustained winds of 18 mph or higher; during thunder or lightning storms, and when waves are at six feet or above.

About 240 commercial parasail concessions operate more than 630 tow vessels in the United States.

Federal Regulations Lacking

Although some 3. 8 million people in the United States enjoy parasailing, no federal regulations govern operations, equipment inspection and replacement or standards. When you decide to go parasailing, you are taking a chance.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a parasailing accident, our South Carolina personal injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm can answer your questions about your legal rights. For a free initial consultation, call (888) 324-3100 or use our online contact form.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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