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Parasailing Proposal Moves Forward

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A move to tighten parasailing regulations in Florida has taken a step forward.

A House subcommittee unanimously approved the measure Wednesday.

The proposal would require parasailing operators to have liability insurance, to monitor weather, forbid them to operate in severe weather and require their boats to have a U.S. Coast Guard license.

Last July, Alexis Fairchild was parasailing in Panama City when the cord from the boat to the sail snapped in high winds.

She and a friend were injured when they smashed into a condo before crashing into a nearby parking lot.

Eyewitness News was there in February when the 17 year old Fairchild testified before a Senate Committee in support of the measure.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, there have been 21 accidents involving parasailing in the last 13 years.

They've resulted in 23 injuries and 6 fatalities mostly due to high winds, wind gusts, equipment failure and operator error.

The bill does include criminal penalties for violations if it becomes law.

The measure now moves to the House Regulatory Affairs Committee.


By: Emily Johnson
February 13, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - 17-year-old Alexis Fairchild is a senior is high school this year, but it's turning out a lot different than she ever imagined. "You don't think going into your senior year, you're going to be struggling going to doctors appointments and staying at home with your parents," said Fairchild.

Fairchild was involved in a parasailing accident in July of 2013 when vacationing in Panama City with friends. The cord tethering their parasail to the boat snapped in the high winds, causing her and a friend to smash into a condo before ultimately crashing into a nearby parking lot. "Please don't let my accident happen for no reason, don't let any of the accidents happen for no reason," said Fairchild.

Florida Senator, Maria Sachs, from Delray Beach is sponsoring Senate Bill 320. In the bill Sachs is calling for a minimum common sense regulations. "If you look in the video of what occurred in the accidents, you can see in the distance storm clouds coming," said Sachs.

The bill would require parasailing companies to have at least a $1 million insurance policy. As well as a policy to stop parasailing activity when winds reach more that 20mph and when lightning is withing seven miles.

Senate Bill 320 was approved by The Senate Regulated Industries Committee. Fairchild is hoping this is the first step and that this bill will not go unnoticed anymore. "Like we have to put regulations in place or other people are going to get killed or hurt. Just don't let this go mind sided," said Fairchild.


Associated Press News Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A Senate committee has unanimously approved a bill that would provide safety guidelines for parasailing companies.

The legislation approved Thursday details specific insurance, equipment and license requirements along with weather conditions that dictate a halt in operation.

Sen. Maria Sachs sponsored the bill. The Delray Beach Democrat says it's her number one priority for this year's session.

The parasailing industry received national attention in recent years with several deaths and accidents involving the unregulated activity in Florida.

The bill proposes that operators carry $1 million in insurance, have a license issued by the United States Coast Guard and have certain equipment on the boat.

Accident victim Alexis Fairchild and the mother of Amber White, who died in a 2007 incident, made emotional pleas to the committee on Thursday


News Release: Florida Senate Democratic Office

TALLAHASSEE – Seventeen-year old Alexis Fairchild was on vacation in Panama City last year when she lifted into the air strapped to a parasail. Moments later, caught in the fierce winds of an approaching storm, she and her teenage friend dangled helplessly after their tow line snapped, hurtling them into a 13-story building and power lines before both teens crashed to the ground.

Ms. Fairchild, who suffered a traumatic brain injury from the accident, joined state Senator Maria Sachs (D-Delray) today to talk about her horrifying experience, and the largely unregulated parasailing industry in the state. Joining them was Shannon Kraus and Crystal White. Ms. Kraus is the mother of Amber White, a 15-year old Florida teenager killed in a similar parasailing tragedy in 2007. Crystal is Amber’s older sister, who was parasailing with Amber when their tow line also snapped as a storm approached, and suffered permanent brain damage as a result.

All of the women are supporting legislation sponsored once again by Senator Sachs for the upcoming session which would improve safety standards and impose certain weather restrictions for parasailing operators.

The press conference was held Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. on the Plaza Level of the Capitol.


Associated Press Release

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The second of two northern Indiana teenagers badly injured in a Florida parasailing crash is out of the hospital and on the mend.

Seventeen-year-old Sidney Good was released Tuesday from an Indianapolis hospital, but she'll continue outpatient therapies and remain under doctors' care.

Good's family says in a statement that "her recovery has been nothing short of a miracle."

The Roanoke teen and her 17-year-old friend, Alexis Fairchild of Huntington, were hurt in a July 1 parasailing accident that began when a rope tethering them to a boat snapped.

Strong winds slammed the teens into a condominium building, a power line and a parked car at Panama City Beach, Fla.

The Coast Guard has said severe weather and the boat's proximity to shore were major factors in the accident.


Associated Press Release

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- One of the northern Indiana teenagers badly hurt in a Florida parasailing crash is out of the hospital nearly a month after the accident.

The parents of 17-year-old Alexis Fairchild say she was released Tuesday from an Indianapolis hospital and returned to the family's Huntington home.

Her parents say Fairchild still faces a long recovery, with another surgery in a couple months and physical and speech therapy. Her injuries included a skull fracture.

Fairchild and 17-year-old friend Sidney Good of Roanoke were hurt July 1 after a rope tethering them to a boat snapped and strong winds slammed them into a condominium building, a power line and a parked car at Panama City Beach.

Good was moved to an Indianapolis rehabilitation hospital last week after surgery for facial fractures.


Associated Press Release

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The father of a northeastern Indiana teenager recovering from a Florida parasailing crash says she's reached another milestone.

Eric Good of Roanoke said Tuesday that his 17-year-old daughter, Sidney, was released from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis and transferred to a rehabilitation hospital.

Sidney Good and 17-year-old Alexis Fairchild of Huntington were hurt July 1 after a rope tethering them to a boat snapped and strong winds slammed them into a condominium building, a power line and a parked car at Panama City Beach. Both now are in rehab centers.

Sidney Good had surgery last week to repair facial fractures and to replace a bone flap from an earlier surgery in Florida,

The Coast Guard has said severe weather and the boat's proximity to shore were major factors in the accident.


Associated Press Release

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Both northern Indiana 17-year-old girls badly hurt in a Florida parasailing crash have recovered enough for return trips to their home state.

The family of Sidney Good of Roanoke says she was released Sunday from a Panama City, Fla., hospital and flew to Indianapolis. WANE-TV and WPTA-TV of Fort Wayne report Good was able to stand and walk a short distance on Saturday for the first time since the July 1 accident.

Good and friend Alexis Fairchild of Huntington were injured after the rope connecting them to a boat snapped and they slammed into a condominium, hit a power line and struck a parked car.

Fairchild moved to an Indianapolis rehabilitation hospital last week. Good's family says she could need more surgery before starting rehabilitation.


Associated Press Release

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) -- One of the two teens injured in a Panama City Beach parasailing crash is heading home to Indiana.

The News Herald of Panama City (http://bit.ly/1dq2mw4 ) reports Alexis Fairchild left the hospital Thursday morning and will continue rehabilitation at a hospital in Indianapolis.

Fairchild and Sidney Good were injured July 1 when the line from their parasail snapped. The 17-year-olds slammed into the side of a condominium and hit a power line before striking a parked car.

According to an update from the girls' families, Good will require reconstructive surgery to repair broken facial bones. She had hoped to get out of bed this week, but doctors decided it was too soon for her to start moving around.

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Information from: The (Panama City, Fla.) News Herald, http://www.newsherald.com


Associated Press Release

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) -- One of the Indiana teens injured in a parasailing crash in the Florida Panhandle is out of intensive care.

Family members say Alexis Fairchild of Huntington, Ind., remains hospitalized in Panama City but has improved enough for two rehabilitation sessions a day to help her get back to walking.

Meanwhile, Sidney Renea Good of Roanoake, Ind., had neck surgery on Monday. Her relatives say she no longer needs a ventilator to breathe and symptoms of a brain injury are subsiding. She will need to wear a neck brace for several weeks.

The girls were seriously injured July 1 when the line from their parasail snapped. The 17-year-olds slammed into the side of a condominium and hit a power line before striking a parked car on the ground.


Associated Press Release

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- The owner of the company involved in a parasailing crash that seriously injured two Indiana girls in the Florida Panhandle says he's praying for their recovery.

In a statement to The News Herald (http://bit.ly/12IQv5P ), Aquatic Adventures owner Jeff Jones says that while his company follows guidelines to minimize the risks of parasailing, "sudden weather conditions can and do occur."

Jones declined further comment, noting that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating Monday's crash.

Sidney Renea Good of Roanoake, Ind. and Alexis Fairchild of Huntington, Ind., suffered serious injuries when the line from their parasail snapped. The 17-year-olds slammed into the side of a condominium and hit a power line before striking a parked car on the ground.

The teens remained hospitalized Thursday in Panama City.

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Information from: The (Panama City, Fla.) News Herald, http://www.newsherald.com


Press Release: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Two Indiana teenagers were seriously injured in a parasailing accident Monday in Panama City Beach.

Sidney Renea Good (DOB 03/17/96), Roanoake, Ind., and Alexis Fairchild, from Huntington, Ind., were parasailing in a tandem harness over the Gulf of Mexico off Panama City Beach when an afternoon storm developed with strong winds, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials.

These winds kept the chute aloft and several attempts to winch the riders back onto the vessel failed. The anchor was set to keep the boat from being pulled onto shore. The towline detached and the riders were helpless to control the chute.

The riders then impacted power lines, buildings and parked vehicles. Good and Fairchild were transported to Bay Medical-Sacred Heart in Panama City.

According to FWC investigators, the girls are in critical condition. FWC is continuing to investigate the accident.


Associated Press Release

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Officials say at least two people were seriously injured when a parasail crashed in Panama City Beach.

The Bay County Sheriff's Office reports that a parasail had been attached to a boat Monday afternoon when the line broke. One victim dropped into the Gulf of Mexico and was rescued. The News Herald reports that two other people continued on until the parasail crashed into a nearby parking lot.

The victims weren't immediately identified. Officials say they were transported to a local hospital.


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