POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) — The husband of a 28-year-old tourist from Connecticut who fell to her death on Aug. 15 while parasailing has filed a lawsuit against the water sports company and the parachute’s manufacturer.
Stephen Miskell is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from WaveBlast Water Sports and Custom Chutes, Inc. in the death of his wife Kathleen.
Kathleen Miskell died from drowning and blunt trauma, according to Broward’s Office of the Medical Examiner.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald reports the cause of death was reported as “asphyxia due to drowning and multiple blunt force injuries,’’ and her manner of death was ruled an accident.
“Kathleen’s death is a tragedy that shines a cautionary light on the very serious dangers of this unregulated and unchecked recreational activity,” said Searcy Denney attorney Karen Terry, who represents Stephen Miskell. “Her death, and others, would have been prevented if proper regulations were in place.”
The couple, who had been married for nearly three years, were on vacation and decided to take an afternoon parasail ride offered by the parasailing company, which operates out of the Sands Harbor Hotel in Pompano Beach.
The Miskells were in a side-by-side parasail when Kathleen Miskell’s harness malfunctioned, falling about 200 feet into the Atlantic Ocean.
After reeling Stephen Miskell safely in, the boat went to where Kathleen Miskell lay face down in the water.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating what caused the accident.
Kathleen Miskell, a teacher’s aide in Connecticut, was an active member of the Irish American Home Society and an accomplished Irish step dancer.
Last month, a bill sponsored by Delray Beach Senator Maria Sachs, was shot down by the Commerce and Tourism Committee.
The “White-Miskell Bill”, was named for Miskell and Amber White, 15, who was killed in 2007 when her parasailing line snapped in windy condition off Pompano Beach. She and her sister hit a beachfront hotel. Her sister survived.
The measure would have bolster insurance and safety requirements for operators including restrictions on when and where parasailing can occur. It would have also prohibited parasailing under certain weather conditions and prevent operation of the boat within certain proximities of power lines, wharfs, or other fixed objects.
“The rejection of these regulations by the Florida State Legislature is unconscionable,” added Ms. Terry. “The unfortunate decision, which exposes others to significant injury and death, seems to reflect a misguided resistance to intelligent regulation of any sort. In this case, one might also conclude that powerful hotel industry interests have an added economic incentive to allow these life-threatening risks to go unmonitored. Make no mistake, those who believe that parasailing must be governed by reasonable regulation are not going to give up the fight on the legislative front either. We will continue the battle in Tallahassee as well as in courts of law.”
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