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Coast Guard wraps up parasailing hearing


After 61 exhibits and nine sets of testimonies, Coast Guard investigators now have a better idea of what happened on August 28th. It started as a fun day of parasailing, and ended with two women dead.

The only person to testify at the Coast Guard hearing on Friday gave an inside look at the parasailing industry. Arrit McPherson, the president of the Professional Association of Parasail Operators, spoke to investigators by phone for more than an hour. He said there are no standards offering training in the activity, and it is not really regulated.

He also commented on a main point brought up in the investigation – weather. “The most important determination that’s on my mind is weather. Weather generally dictates whether or not we’ll operate,” said McPherson.

Many question why the crew took the boat out on August 28th. There was a small craft advisory in effect when the rope holding Lorrie Shoup and Cynthia Woodcock in the air, snapped. The crew members said they did not know about the advisory.

“If it’s clearly inclement weather, I’m not comfortable with it, so I won’t go. I believe it is a judgement call,” added McPherson.

The victim’s daughter-in-law, Tyisha Woodcock said, “I just think they could have done a better job.” She said she is angered and hurt by what she learned during the hearing. “I even feel sorry for the captain and the boating company and for the mate. I mean it’s not something that they set out to do, but I feel that they slacked.”

Lead investigator from the US Coast Guard, Lt. Chester Warren said, “All you can do in a situation like this is look at all the facts, consider the witness testimony, analyze the equipment and you kind of let the facts speak for itself.”

Investigators will write a final report from this hearing, and pass it along to Coast Guard headquarters. From there, it could go onto other federal agencies for safety recommendations.

There are no criminal charges against anyone involved in the accident.

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videoThe Coast Guard wrapped up the final day of its hearing looking into a deadly parasailing accident in Ocean Isle Beach last month.

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