Coast Guard Helps Inspect Parasail Vessel

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PANAMA CITY BEACH The US Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering inspections to local parasail operators as part of the state regulations going into effect Tuesday.

The law comes on the one year anniversary of a Panama City Beach parasailing crash, critically injuring 2 vacationing Indiana teenagers.

The lawyer for one of the girls thinks the new law doesn't go far enough.

The US Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering free voluntary checks of passenger vehicles this summer.

It's a program they hope will help prevent any boating-related accidents.

US Coast Guard Lieutenant Mike Clausen says, "If there's something wrong, because they're auxiliary can educate them versus issue a fine. If we were to stop them on the water being active duty coast guard we'd have to take an enforcement action against them."

That includes parasailing vessels, like the one teens Sydney Good and Alexis Fairchild were in last summer.

But while Coast Guard inspectors check for life jackets, fire extinguishers, flares, and proper registrations, they do not inspect parasailing ropes and harnesses.

USCG Auxiliary Flotilla Commander Bill Roland says, "Specifically we look for all of the things that are required of an uninspected passenger vehicle. We're not authorized to inspect the actual parasailing equipment."

Since the tow-line snapped last year and sent both seventeen year olds adrift, the senate approved a parasailing bill this year which requires insurance and sets wind speed limits.

But is it enough?

Local Attorney Wes Pittman says, "It's not nearly enough. The parasailing bill is woefully inadequate because the speeds that are lawful to fly under this new legislation are still above the speed at which the parasailing lines snapped one year ago."

The coast guard auxiliary says four-commercial parasailing vessels have been checked this year.

Under the new state regulations parasailers can't operate if winds are 35 miles an hour.

Pittman says they were 31 miles an hour when the rope snapped last year.

He also says parasail operators currently are not required to have equipment inspected by anyone.