Water sports and other outdoor recreational activities play a significant role in Florida’s economy and help make our state desirable for tourists and locals alike. Many water sports, especially the motorized type, carry risks inherent to the sport itself. Consumers seeking to participate in a sporting activity facilitated by a private company are usually required to agree to a liability waiver to disclaim the company from legal liability in the event a customer is injured or killed while participating in the activity. An Illinois woman recently died in an accident that occurred on a parasailing excursion that was organized by a Florida company.
According to the facts discussed in a local news report covering the tragedy, the woman and her two sons decided to go parasailing on Memorial Day near Pigeon Key with the company Lighthouse Parasail Inc., based out of Marathon, FL. Parasailing is an activity where one or more people are attached to a parachute, which is tethered to a boat. As the boat accelerates, the parachute fills with air, and the parasailers fly above the water, similar to a large kite being flown from a moving boat. While the mother and her two sons were parasailing, winds picked up and resulted in the cable snapping and the parasailers flying away from the boat without guidance.
Shortly after the parasailers broke free from the boat, the winds pushed them toward the Old Seven Mile Bridge, eventually smashing the three parasailers into a wall portion of the bridge. Bystanders arrived to render aid and free the parasailers from the chute and bridge cables. The mother was pronounced dead at the scene, with the two boys each suffered moderate injuries. While the crash is still under investigation, preliminary reports blame the unexpected weather.