POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — A 28-year-old woman was pronounced dead late yesterday afternoon after falling as much as 200 feet from a parasail into the ocean off Pompano Beach, according to Fire Rescue spokeswoman Sandra King.
The victim was identified as Kathleen Miskell of Connecticut. She was parasailing in tandem with her husband Stephen about 3:15 p.m. when her harness broke and she hit the water. The husband was reeled in by the boat operators, who then circled back to recover his wife, King said.
“She was in cardiac arrest,” King said.
The captain performed CPR until meeting up with paramedics at the Hillsboro inlet, she said. She was taken to North Broward Health Center.
The parasailing company was identified as Wave Blast Water Sports.
This is the second parasailing death off Pompano Beach in recent years. In the summer of 2007, Amber May White, of Summerfield, Fla., was parasailing with her sister when the line snapped in high winds, allowing the girls to be slammed onto the roof of a hotel. An investigation revealed that the operator had ignored a thunderstorm warning.
The industry operates with little regulation from state or federal governments. Bills in the state Legislature to impose safety standards repeatedly have failed to win approval.
In this year’s Legislative session, bills in the Florida House and Senate earlier this year would have established safety standards for parasailing gear, required a minimum of $1 million of insurance, prohibited parasailing in hazardous weather and set other standards to protect riders. Both bills died in committee.
Four people were killed in parasailing accidents in Florida from 2001 to 2011, according to an analysis prepared for the safety proposals in the state Legislature. Yesterday’s death brings the total to five.
An estimated 70 to 120 commercial parasailing companies operate in Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The Federal Aviation Commission classifies them as “kites” and imposes some rules aimed at preventing collisions with aircraft. The Coast Guard licenses captains and inspects boats but does not impose standards on harnesses, towlines or other equipment.
Mark McCulloh, a former parasail operator and manufacturer who founded the Parasail Safety Council, said that from the few facts available so far, this sounds like a highly unusual accident.
Parasailing accidents typically take place when the towline separates in high winds, allowing the rider to get dragged through the water and drowned or slammed into something on land, he said.