Thrill ride regulations and inspections not consistently posted
Sidney Good and Alexis Fairchild, both 17-years-old and both in critical condition after slamming into a building and crashing to the ground while they were parasailing in Florida.
What happened to these girls has happened to hundreds of others. Strong winds break the tow line and leave the rider with no method to control the parasail.
According to Mark McCulloh of the Parasailing Safety Council in Florida, the industry is not considered well-regulated "They were absolutely too close to shore," McCulloh said. "They were at extreme altitude because, for the parasail to have not hit the water and run into to the condo, they were way above."
Aquatic Adventures is owned and operated by Jeff Jones of Panama City, Florida. And according to court documents obtained by Eyewitness News, Jones and Aquatic Adventures have been sued a number of times for unpaid bills, along with state and federal taxes.
In 2003, a judge ordered Jones to pay $650,000 to Kimberly Watson. The suit claims Aquatic Solutions rented a jet ski to an intoxicated man that ran over Watson.
In the forty years since parasailing hit mainstream vacation spots, there have been 73 deaths reported and another 400 people put in the hospital with serious injuries. Most accidents, according to the Parasail Council on Safety, are a result of poor maintenance of equipment or a disregard for safety.
The industry claims that during the same period there have been 130-million rides. The industry says the numbers tell a story of safety. They claim they are doing a good job of self-regulation. But there is no central data bank to check safety records and inspections of parasail operators, so you have to take their word on quantifying safety.
We also wanted to check other thrill rides closer to home.
Remember the zip line that was put up for the Super Bowl? Marion County Code Enforcement made sure it was safe for riders. The zip line was so popular there are now permanent zip lines in Bloomington and at Eagle Creek.
Those rides fall under the Indiana Regulated Amusement Device Safety Board, which does the inspections. However, the state safety reports for zip lines and other regulated rides are not available online.
The Marion County Department of Homeland Security also has a role, as it looks over rides in the event of an of emergency.
Regardless of what state or city you are in, when you decide to jump on a zip line or go parasailing, safety records and inspections are hard to find. When you buy the ticket to take the ride, you take a chance.