Articles Tagged with “Amber May White”

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For the first time ever, Florida’s parasailing businesses have to comply with safety regulations.

Florida Statute 327.02 (“Miskell-White Act”) requires commercial parasailing operators to log weather conditions before beginning each parasailing, forbids operations during hazardous weather conditions, and requires operators to be licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard. It also requires minimum liability insurance, which has plagued this industry where fly-by-night operators opened and closed their businesses at will. Previously this was a completely unregulated industry where anyone with a boat, tow rope and parachute could charge money to take people aloft under any conditions.

John Leighton and our client Shannon Kraus (mother of Amber May White) fought tirelessly for seven years to see this law come to fruition. It is a result of almost yearly tragedies that have occurred during parasailing activities in Florida. In 2007, Shannon lost her 15 year-old daughter Amber May White, for which the new law is named. Amber May’s tragedy just foreshadowed years of repetitive injuries and deaths until Florida’s legislature finally took action.

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Despite passage of the nation’s first law regulating parasailing, many who operate parasailing businesses still care more about cash than lives. The law, which goes into effect October 1, limits when parasailing can take place, the wind speeds and when there is lightning within 7 miles. Operators must review all weather forecasts available and keep a weather log.

Over the July 4th weekend the waters of South Florida were replete with instances of parasailing which violates the spirit and letter of the impending new law. The example here, from Miami’s Biscayne Bay, make it obvious that the operators are more interested in making money than in protecting vacationers. With threatening skies, high wind gusts and frequent lightning, there were few pleasure craft in the water on July 5th. But sure enough there were plenty of parasailing operations!

VACATION TIP: Never get on a parasailing operation without checking the weather, determining that the operator holds a Coast Guard license for transport of passengers, maintains a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance, maintains a VHF transceiver and a separate marine weather device providing National Weather Service updates and maintains a log of all weather prior to taking passengers out. Make sure that the operator is familiar with and complies with new Florida statute 327.375 governing commercial parasailing, also known as the White-Miskell Act.

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In what can only be characterized as a repeat tragedy in South Florida, 28 year-old Kathleen Miskell of Connecticut was killed while riding a parasail off the coast of Pompano Beach, Florida yesterday. While her husband watched helplessly from the tandem parasail in which they were strapped, the harness holding Kathleen failed, throwing her 200 feet to the water. Ms. Miskell was pronounced dead at North Broward Medical Center a short time later.

This tragic death falls almost on the anniversary of the double tragedy involving 15 year-old Amber May White and her 16 year-old sister Crystal in 2007. Amber May was killed and Crystal suffered a severe head injury when the parasail on which they were riding disconnected from its line, throwing them into a building. This too occurred in Pompano Beach.

Mrs. Miskell died while aboard a Wave Blast Water Sports parasailing operation. The ride was operated out of the Sands Hotel in Pompano Beach. This took place by the Hillsboro Inlet.