Florida Parasailing accident prompts calls for regulation - WFLA News Channel 8

Florida Parasailing accident prompts calls for regulation

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As a storm moved in and the winds howled, two Indiana teenagers could only hold on for dear life, as their parasailing ride in Panama City turned horrifying.  Witnesses on the ground gasped as they watched the spectacle after their parasailing rope broke away from the boat.

Austin Ward was supposed to be the next to fly.  "The wind got so bad it was pulling the parachute and it started pulling the boat. So they threw the anchor down," he said.

The two girls hit the 13th floor of a condo. "And they were screaming and it was horrific.. And they hit the building and then they stopped screaming and it was awful," said witness Inga Bobbin.

After hitting a palm tree, they slammed into a parked SUV. Both are in critical condition after Monday's accident.

Parasail operators in Florida are not regulated, but there are some lawmakers in this state that want to change all that. State Senator Maria Sachs has had enough.  She's re-filing a bill that failed last session, to crack down on parasail operators. "No one will be allowed to go out with wind speeds of more than 20 miles per hour. And if there's any lightning within 7 miles, they cannot operate that boat. And they have to have liability insurance of 1 million per person," she said. 

Parasailing operators, opposed to new rules in the past, may be willing to accept change. "I think at this point I think operators are gonna be more than willing to sit down now and not be so disruptive and dismissive of regulation," said Mark McCulloh of the Parasail Safety Council.

Parasail booths line Coronado drive in Clearwater. But potential customers are likely unaware, they're rides are unregulated, for now.

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