NTSB Slams Parasailing Industry, Advises Guidelines

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Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 7:22 am

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (ABC News) -- A year to the day that two friends on vacation were badly injured after a parasailing trip went awry, the National Transportation Safety Board today issued a stinging rebuke of the industry, accusing operators of "poor judgment, lack of sufficient experience [and] improper training."

"Passengers seeking to enjoy the thrill, adventure and panoramic views of parasailing risk becoming accident victims," said the NTSB report. "Due to the nature of parasailing, accidents usually result in either serious injury or death."

In July 2013, Alexis Fairchild and Sidney Good, both 17, of Indiana, were in Panama Beach, Fla., parasailing in tandem, when the parachute that the girls were using broke free from a boat, according to the police incident report.

The pair collided with a condominium building, the Commodore, and hit power lines and several parked cars.

Initial reports from investigators blamed the accident on an afternoon storm with strong winds. They said several attempts to winch the girls back onto the boat failed.

The two were hospitalized in critical condition.

Related: Parasailing Victim 'a Strong Believer in God.'

Fairchild suffered a broken back and head trauma but was released later in July; Good was put on a ventilator with cracked vertebrae and severe brain trauma. They both continue to recuperate.

Good's father, Eric Good, said he thought she was in good hands as she parasailed that day.

"You just assume everything is safe," said Good's mother, Amy. "They tell you. They advertise it."

There are no federal guidelines regulating parasailing. The NTSB today recommended that all operators be licensed by the Coast Guard.

The industry organization said that it supported legislation and was working with the Coast Guard.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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