POMPANO BEACH (CBS4) – State and federal investigators are trying to figure out why a parasailing harness failed on a woman while she was more than 150 feet above the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Pompano Beach Wednesday afternoon.
The woman fell to her death while her husband remained strapped in, watching in horror.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is handling the investigation. The agency identified the victim as Kathleen Miskell, 28. Officials said Miskell was visiting Florida from Connecticut with her husband Stephen.
Investigators with FWC removed the boat from the water Wednesday evening. It is now evidence in the case.
Pompano Beach city officials said that after Miskell fell, the boat captain brought her husband down, found Miskell’s body floating in the water and she gave her CPR.
Paramedics rushed Miskell to the hospital but she did not make it.
Pompano Beach Mayor Lamar Fisher was sickened by the news.
“Her harness gave way and she fell between 150-200 feet face down into the ocean and that’s like hitting a brick wall,” Fisher said.
Fisher pointed to a similar death in Pompano in 2007 when a wind gust swept two teenagers who were parasailing into a building. One of them — Amber White, 15 — died.
Fisher said the city encouraged Florida legislators to regulate the parasailing industry after the accident but he said legislators did nothing.
“Here we are today losing another life because of no inspections and no opportunities to make sure this equipment is safe,” Fisher said.
Investigators were seen talking to a man in an orange shirt at length Wednesday but it’s unclear exactly what role he played in the accident. The boat belongs to a business called Wave Blast Water Sports. CBS 4 News spoke to a man who said he was helping his friend at the company.
“We run a very safe operation,” said Luke, who would only provide his first name. “We have the best of the best equipment and it’s just a freak accident that happened.”
Luke said the company uses kevlar and nylon straps when parasailing and he had no idea why the harness failed.
The man said they feel terrible for the family of the victim.
“All I can say is I’m sorry to the family. I’m sorry for their loss,” Luke said.
Mayor Fisher said he believes the city will once again urge state legislators to regulate the parasailing industry in the wake of this latest tragic incident.