Coast Guard releases new details in parasailing accident

Alexis Fairchild (left) and Sidney Good (right) were injured in a parasailing accident in Florida on July 1.
Alexis Fairchild (left) and Sidney Good (right) were injured in a parasailing accident in Florida on July 1.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WANE) – The Coast Guard said they are continuing their investigation into what caused the parasailing accident that seriously injured two Huntington County teens on July 1.

Initial findings indicate that severe weather and the vessel’s proximity to shore, which was about 300 yards, were major factors in the parasailing accident.

The Coast Guard’s release is below:

The Coast Guard continues its investigation into the cause of a parasail accident that occurred off Panama City Beach July 1.

While the investigation is still ongoing, investigators have made the following preliminary findings:

Initial findings indicate that the severe weather encountered by the Why Knot, and the vessel’s proximity to shore which was approximately 300 yards, were substantial factors in the Why Knot’s loss of control of the parasail and the parasail’s subsequent path of travel once separated from the vessel. While there are no regulations that prescribe specific weather parameters for parasail operations, the Coast Guard is urging mariners to carefully monitor prevailing and predicted weather conditions and tailor operations accordingly. Parasail operators need to be especially cognizant of weather conditions on both the surface and at operating altitudes, and remain well within the rated parameters of on board equipment, with adequate safe margins for control and safe recovery of passengers.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are running concurrent investigations, sharing information and interviewing numerous witnesses, and collecting evidence and data. With the assistance from the National Transportation Safety Board, investigators conducted operational load testing of the parasail equipment. Investigators will continue to conduct further detailed analysis and testing of the parasail line. The purpose of the Coast Guard’s investigation is to identify contributing factors that led to the accident and take appropriate measures to prevent reoccurrence.

On the afternoon of July 1, Panama City Beach Fire Department, Bay County Sheriff’s Office, FWC, the Coast Guard and other local emergency services responded to an accident involving the uninspected passenger vessel Why Knot conducting parasail operations off Panama City Beach with two teenagers aboard. The resulting accident critically injured both girls and caused significant damage, including damage to a condominium and vehicles in the parking lot.

The Coast Guard, along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Transportation Safety Board, are still investigating the case.

Parasailing accident in Florida

Good and Fairchild, were parasailing in high winds on Monday July 1 when the rope apparently broke from the boat, sending the girls flying out of control. Cell phone video shows the two hitting a balcony on a condo and careening over another building before crashing into an SUV in a parking lot.

Both underwent brain surgery on Monday, the night of the accident. Good continued to suffer brain trauma that prevented doctors from working on her broken neck for several days . Fairchild had another surgery on her head and back on Wednesday and by Thursday she was able to walk with the assistance of a walker.

Good had surgery to alleviate swelling of the brain and to remove a blood clot. A week after the parasailing accident that caused the injuries, doctors determined Good was finally stable enough for a surgery to repair her neck. The surgery went well and she had her ventilator removed the same day.

By Wednesday, Good was telling her parents that she felt bored and wanted to get up and move around. Family initially hoped she would begin walking soon but doctors decided it was too soon for her to move around. She will also need to undergo reconstructive surgery to repair broken facial bones.

Fairchild was able to move out of the ICU at this time and into a normal hospital room. She started twice-a-day rehabilitation sessions to help her return to normal movement.

On Thursday, ten days after the accident, Fairchild was released from the hospital and traveled to a hospital in Indianapolis where she will continue her rehabilitation.

Good was released from a Florida hospital on Sunday, July 14, and flown to Indianapolis. She received surgery on Wednesday and her father said she should be able to start a rehabilitation stint soon.

From the family:
A benefit fund has been established to help with medical expenses at PNC Bank.  You can deposit into the Good & Fairchild Benefit fund at any PNC Branch, or give online at: www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/tpm2/alexis-sidney

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