The Miami Herald is reporting that the operator of the boat involved in the fatal parasailing accident in South Florida last week had a valid captain’s license but had a criminal record.
He received his license in 2011 despite the fact that he had a prior criminal record involving felony grand theft and forgery. The U.S. Coast Guard, which licenses boat captains, knew about this record, but determined that either enough time had passed since the crimes involved or that it was not relevant to whether he was qualified to operate a commercial boat.
He captained the parasail boat owned by Waveblast Watersports. Last Wednesday, the victim and her husband had been hoisted approximately 200 feet in the air by a Waveblast boat when the victim’s harness failed. She fell into the ocean, as her husband who remained attached to the bar, could only watch. She was recovered face down in the water and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the United States Coast Guard, are investigating the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board stated that it would send an agent to South Florida to join the investigation. The Commission stated that its probe into the accident would be “lengthy.” A spokesman stated that the probe would include investigating all of the equipment that was used including the harness, parachute, and rope.
The chairman of the Parasail Safety Council, stated that video and pictures the scene of the accident reveals that the harness, which is hooked to the tow bar, sheered. While it’s still too early to determine with certainty what exactly transpired, he indicated it’s clear that this is a case of faulty equipment or failure of the operator failed to affix it properly.