Parasailing in Florida moved closer to becoming a regulated industry lat week, with the Senate approving a bill that would place safety guidelines on companies.
The legislation details insurance, equipment and license requirements, along with weather conditions that would force operations to temporarily stop. The bill passed 40-0.
The parasailing industry received national attention in recent years with several deaths and accidents involving the unregulated activity in Florida.
The bill on parasailing — a water sport in which people, attached to a tow rope and wearing parachutes, are lifted into the air by motor boat — is sponsored by Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach. The legislation proposes that operators carry $1 million in insurance, have a license issued by the Coast Guard and have certain equipment onboard.
In 2013, teenager Alexis Fairchild and a friend slammed into a condominium, hit a power line and struck a parked car while parasailing. In 2012, Kathleen Miskell died after her parasail harness broke and she plummeted as much as 200 feet into the Atlantic Ocean. And in 2007, parasailers Amber White and her sister smashed into the roof of a two-story home, then a tree after the rope attached to the boat broke.
Pam Worsham, owner of Cocoa Beach Parasail, said the guidelines would weed out unscrupulous companies that have a negative effect on the industry. Worsham also said she hopes insurance rates for individual companies will drop if the industry is regulated.
“Everything that’s in that law, we’ve been doing already,” Worsham said. “A good operator, as far as the insurance, the equipment, the conditions, we all do that. What this is going to do is hold those people that opt not to accountable.”
The bill still needs to be approved by the House before the legislation would go to the governor.