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 teenage sisters aboard. The resulting accident critically injured both girls and caused significant damage, including damage to a condominium and vehicles in the parking lot.
For more information, please contact Lt. John Authement at (850) 814-8851 or by e-mail at John.K.Authement@uscg.mil.
The above was released Thursday by the Coast Guard.