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Florida may soon put regulations on parasailing

TALLAHASSEE  --  ESCAMBIA COUNTY -- Florida may finally be putting some regulations on parasailing after hearing tearful testimony from victims of accidents. 

There have been 21 parasailing accidents in which six people have died since 2001 according to the U.S. Coast Guard.  Currently parasailing in Florida is unregulated by the state. 
Thursday morning, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee passed a bill that would create stricter rules for the industry.

Kirk Newkirk makes safety his top priority for his parasailing business.
He practices self-regulation, and he's concerned how things will change if lawmakers get involved.

"I think it'll be unfortunate if Tallahassee got a hold of it, and people trying to regulate an industry no one in Tallahassee knows anything about" said Kirk Newkirk, Key Parasailing.

Since Newkirk already take precautions, he feels his business won't be affected as much by a proposed bill that would create tougher parasailing regulations like requiring operators to maintain an insurance policy, and prohibit parasailing in bad weather, where wind speeds exceed 20 miles per hour or lightning within 7 miles.

"One thing around here and not just my operation but also my competitors, we're all very conservative when it comes to the weather" said Newkirk.

Newkirk's staff already goes over safety information with riders.
They're placed in certified safety harnesses, and the weather is checked often.

"Every single time you leave the dock you have to take a wind reading before you launch the shoot, and we always have to have a lightning monitor to make sure we're not going to have lightning strikes the whole time" said Harry Newkirk, Boat Captain.

"It's hard to say no to twelve people that wants to go parasailing but safety first" said Newkirk.

Alexis Fairchild was injured while parasailing in Panama City last summer.
Her towline snapped. She and her friend smashed into a high-rise condo, power lines and parked cars.

"I don't remember hearing anything, I just remember feeling it in my body and just knowing that it snapped, and I remember screaming" said Alexis Fairchild.
 
She and other victims are hopeful tougher parasailing laws are passed this year.