David Sierazki, age 31, is the latest victim of the STILL unregulated parasailing industry. He died last week in the second parasailing fatality in the Tampa Bay area in a year. The engine died in the boat that was pulling him, and he plunged from 800 feet up into the water. When pulled out, he was unconscious and unresponsive, and was later pronounced dead after unsuccessful CPR attempts.
“I can’t believe we haven’t gotten smarter as an industry,” said Mark McCulloh, chairman of the Parasail Safety County, who was quoted in a Tampa Tribune article on the incident.
McCulloh said the industry needs strict rules for parasailing, including maximum wind speed allowances, height restrictions, equipment inspection and tow lines.
Florida legislators have failed to address this continuing problem and need to pass the Amber May Law to bring some regulation to this rogue industry.
As reported by The Today Show, fifteen-year-old Amber May White died while parasailing from head trauma along with internal injuries, sustained when she crashed into a building when the parasail on which she was riding snapped, while vacationing with her family in Pompano Beach, Florida. Amber May’s sister Crystal also suffered head injuries in this tragedy. John Elliott Leighton represented the family in the lawsuit against the parasail operators and the resort where Amber May was killed. Mr. Leighton has spearheaded legislative efforts to bring some regulation to this rogue industry. His efforts in Tallahassee have resulted in a bill which he and the family hope to make law this year.
On August 18, 2007, Amber May White, age 15, and her sister Crystal, 17, were on vacation in Pompano Beach, Florida. They decided to go parasailing for the first time in their lives. The resort at which they were staying directed them to the water sports provider at the hotel.
Despite warnings from the weather service about high winds and seas, the parasailing operator took the sisters up behind the hotel. The boat was very close to shore and the girls were over 500 feet in the air when the winds pulled them onto shore. Despite pleas from Amber to bring them down, they sat strapped in hundreds of feet in the air.
After several minutes stuck in the same place, the line holding the parasail snapped, hurling the girls into the roof of a nearby hotel, and then into the trees, where they had to be cut down. Sadly, Amber’s neck was broken. When she was airlifted to the hospital they determined that she was brain dead. She was kept on life support long enough for her mother, Shannon Kraus, to arrange for organ donation.
Because of Amber May, today there is a young girl with a heart and many others with Amber’s other organs. Crystal suffered serious head injuries but, most important, has lost her sister and very best friend. The sisters were known as a “team” since they did everything together. Crystal was holding Amber’s hand to calm her when the parasail started to fail. The equipment used by the parasailing company was inadequate and faulty, the operator ignored weather warnings, and the parasailing should never have been within 2000 feet of land or structures.
Nevertheless a precious life is gone that cannot be replaced.