As a North Miami Beach accident lawyer, I see Kathleen Miskell accidental death in Florida as a warning to anyone who considers para-sailing a low risk amusement ride. Para-sailing is common up and down the East Coast,at most major beach-side resorts and cruise-ship destinations.
Para-sailing involves being harnessed to a parachute while being towed by a boat. Mrs. Miskell and her husband Stephen were strapped side by side, para-sailing over 200 feet high off Pompano Beach, when her harness suddenly malfunctioned sending her pummeling into the ocean. Somehow, the 28 year old, survived the fall, but died shortly after arriving at the hospital. According to the Broward Office of the Medical Examiner, the official cause of death was drowning and multiple blunt force injuries.
Mrs. Miskell’s death is being investigated by several entities including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the United States Coast Guard.
Like many amusement activities consumers hope and believe that para-sailing is regulated and inspected by the state. Sadly it is not. There are no state wide regulations, training or license requirements to operate a commercial para-sail. In order to conduct a para-sailing business in Florida, operators need only have a valid boating license and a seaworthy vessel.
In 2007, a 15-year-old girl died in a Pompano Beach para-sailing accident. Her para-sail rope broke and she and her sister slammed into a building. Her sister survived. The City of Pompano and the State of Florida both realized that there was no regulations for para- sail concessions; but failed to pass any laws to protect consumers.
As an Orlando amusement park injury attorney I hope that Mrs. Miskell death causes Governor Rick Scott to implement mandatory regulations for para-sailing concessions. I believe that owners should be required to have passed a written test, have lifesaving equipment available and be subjected to periodic equipment and vessel inspections. Not only would this plan hopefully save lives; but would put more Floridians to work as para-sail inspectors. Their salaries could then be funded by the licensing, permits and fines paid by the more than 120 Florida para-sailing companies. I think this would be a perfect solution for many of those who have had their paychecks cut by the BP Oil spill.