Woman dies in parasailing accident

By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
editor@portisabelsouthpadre.com

A San Antonio woman ­ died after falling to the water while parasailing near South Padre Island Saturday. She has been identified as 47-year-old Dawn Strickland.

Strickland was found in the water by a boater who called the U.S. Coast Guard at just after 6 p.m., according to a statement released by the Coast Guard. The boater attempted to perform CPR until the Coast Guard arrived to continue resuscitation attempts. Strickland was transported to “local emergency services where she was pronounced dead,” according to the statement.

Currently, the incident is under investigation by the Coast Guard and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. According to reports, officials have begun speaking with employees of Sonny’s Beach Service.

Speaking from Houston, Coast Guard Petty Officer Andrew Kendrick said there are currently no federal regulations governing the parasailing industry. The Coast Guard only has oversight on commercial vessels that can carry six or more passengers, he said. “We’re very concerned about passenger injuries and deaths related to the commercial parasailing and we work with the regulations that are in effect,” he said.

“So, commercial vessels that have to meet Coast Guard regulations and policies, we try to, basically, leverage those to make sure that people are being safe with their parasailing as much as we can given the regulations that we can enforce.”

Kendrick said approximately 325 commercial parasailing vessels operate nationwide. Of those, approximately 160 of them are capable of carrying the six or more passengers needed before a vessel can be inspected.

“Since 2006, there have been eight deaths and 38 injuries that were directly associated with commercial parasailing in the US,” Kendrick said.

Change is occurring within the industry, however, Kendrick said, adding that an industry association began creating standards in 2012. “There was the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM). They formed a subcommittee in 2012 and then developed some guidelines,” he said.

“(At) the end of 2014, they came out with a practices for parasailing comprehensive standard and added sections for equipment operations, crew efficiency, training, record keeping, all those kinds of things,” he said.

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