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Parasailing industry needs basic safety regulations

Although it’s a common and thrilling beach activity, parasailing lacks the necessary oversight and regulation that could have prevented a recent tragic accident.

Parasailers are attached to a boat with a cable and ride above the water as a parachute keeps them in flight.

In a sight typical of Labor Day festivities, Alejandra White, 27, was parasailing with her fiance Shaun Ladd, 31, at Clearwater Beach on Sept. 5.

According to investigators, high winds that kept other parasailing companies from operating during that time resulted in the breakage of the line that held their harness to the boat.

Ladd was able to release himself and fell into the water, but White remained in the harness and violently hit the ground, where she continued to collide with chairs, umbrellas and a volleyball net post. Her flight resulted in serious injuries and led to her eventual death on Saturday.

This senseless loss of life was avoidable if the parasail company, Screamer Parasail of Clearwater Beach, had decided to cease operating during the windy and dangerous weather that accompanied the accident.

However, they didn’t and weren’t required too, as the entire industry lacks some of the most basic safety regulations.

“No longer do I believe that voluntary regulation is going to work,” Mark McCulloh, of the national Parasail Safety Council, said to the St. Petersburg Times. “If they don’t take charge of this, there are going to be more (deaths). It’s lawlessness.”

According to the Times, a license is not required for parasail operators, and federal and state authorities do not inspect parasailing equipment. The only requirement is a permit for parasailing boats, which is issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Even more unacceptable is that parasail operators are not prevented from operating in dangerous weather.

Greedy parasail operators shouldn’t be allowed to risk lives in their pursuit for maximum profits.

State legislators have already tried to ban parasailing in dangerous winds, but their efforts have gone nowhere.

Thrill seekers’ safety should be of the utmost importance. Other seemingly dangerous thrill rides, such as roller coasters, have a necessarily stringent safety process. It’s unacceptable that parasailing doesn’t garner similar precautions.

This young woman’s senseless death should not be in vain. State legislators need to view this as a wakeup call and begin to implement necessary measures that ensure safe and responsible enjoyment of parasailing.