The Coast Guard has released the final report on the investigation of the parasailing accident involving the small passenger vessel Tied High off the coast of Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., in 2009.
Several factors contributed to the deaths of two people killed August 28, 2009, while parasailing with the vessel, the report said.
The investigation found the initiating event for this casualty was the failure of the winch to retrieve the passengers in flight during the storm and high winds that occurred that day. Weather in this case had a constant negative impact during this casualty, along with three primary causal factors involving human error on the part of the company owner and vessel master, four primary causal factors involving equipment and two primary causal factors involving safety standards.
The report also states there is substantial evidence that the company owner and master of the Tied High, through their actions or inactions, committed acts of negligence and/or misconduct that contributed to the cause of this casualty and the death of two passengers. There is no evidence that the use of dangerous drugs or alcohol contributed to this casualty. Also, the investigation did not identify any inconsistencies with regards to the vessel’s Coast Guard inspection. It was determined the vessel was in substantial compliance with 46 Code of Federal Regulations Subchapter T on the day of the casualty.
More than a dozen recommendations are made in the report, including that the Coast Guard work with parasailing organizations to establish industry standards; that commercial parasail operators be required to monitor marine broadcasts prior to conducting and while engaged in parasailing; and that parasail vessels be required to provide a comprehensive passenger safety briefing prior to departure to include a discussion of the inherent risks of parasailing.
As recommended in the report, the commander of the Fifth Coast Guard District forwarded the case to the U.S. Attorney General for review for possible criminal liability of the company owner and master of the vessel Tied High under 18 U.S.C. 1115, 46 U.S.C. 2302(a), and other laws, as per 46 Code of Federal Regulations 4.23-1. The vessel master pled guilty to a violation of the Seaman’s Manslaughter Act November 14, 2012.
The Coast Guard fully supports development of a nationally-recognized safety standard for parasail operations. In January 2012, the Coast Guard approached the American Society for Testing and Materials and the parasail industry to encourage the development of ASTM voluntary consensus standards. Also, the Coast Guard formed an internal working group to more closely explore legislative, regulatory and policy options in a continued effort to promote safety throughout the parasail fleet.
The investigation report can be found here.