FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. - At the one-year anniversary of a tragic parasailing accident in Panama City Beach, Fl., the federal government has announced it's ready to implement some guidelines for the companies in charge of the vacation hobby.
Just recently, Governor Rick Scott signed a law requiring parasailing companies to watch wind speeds and weather. The National Transportation Safety Board, however, is asking the Coast Guard to implement specific parasailing licenses.
On Fort Myers Beach, tourist Christ Douglass told WINK News he has gone parasailing before. For some of his family members, however, Wednesday was their first time.
Douglass said he did his research to find a qualified, and responsible, company, but how can he be sure that the person driving the boat is knowledgeable and responsible?
"Maybe there could be some kind of certificate showing that somebody approved that they follow guidelines, that they follow safety regulations," Douglass recommended, "that sort of thing."
In a way, that's what the NTSB wants to accomplish; a standard for all parasailing companies in the United States.
Tracy Murrell, Director of Marine Safety at NTSB, said, "the number of accidents is relatively small considering the number of people who parasail every year in the United States. The fact is that when something goes wrong, it goes catastrophically wrong.
The NTSB wants to Coast Guard to develop parasailing standards. Companies would be responsible for equipment maintenance, proper training and would need a specific parasailing license. Patrick Ranalli, owner of Ranalli Parasail, says he and other shop owners along Fort Myers Beach are OK with the change. In fact, he says he already runs a tight ship.
"We are giving them formal training before the get anywhere near the point they're flying clients up for hire," he said.
The guidelines aren't in affect yet. The NTSB is still waiting on word from the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard has said it continues to work with the parasailing industry but hasn't given a "yes" or "no" on implementing a national standard.