It’s been almost a month since two women were killed in a parasailing accident in Ocean Isle Beach. The Coast Guard is now looking into exactly what caused the accident. They are conducting a hearing, in hopes of getting answers.
Day one of testimony is over, with two more days to go, but it may take long after that to figure out exactly what happened on August 28th.
There is no judge or jury in the courtroom, but rather Coast Guard investigators and those testifying about a deadly parasailing accident.
“My opinion is, call it a freak weather event, unforeseeable, caught the vessel off guard,” said Barrett McMullan of Ocean Isle Beach Watersports.
Barrett McMullan’s company ran the trip on August 28th, which ended with 56-year-old Lorrie Shoup of Colorado, and 60-year-old Cynthia Woodcock of Kernersville, dead.
According to autopsy reports, they died from blunt force trauma after a rope snapped when they were in the air.
McMullan says a sudden wind picked up, contributing to the accident. “Once that wind hit them, there was nothing that they could do to stop it, and it’s my belief that the crew made heroic efforts to limit the damage.”
Weather reports show there were rough conditions that day, with wind gusts up to 30 miles an hour.
Along with the Coast Guard, the victims’ relatives want answers.
“No feeling, just to hear what happened, just to gather information, just to hear from the witnesses and just to see what happened,” said Tom Collins.
Of the incident, lead investigator Lt. Chester Warren said, “In most cases there’s no one thing that ever causes an accident, there’s a list of things.”
For the Coast Guard, the goal of this hearing is to make safety recommendations.
“This part of the investigation isn’t necessarily determined or designed to hold someone accountable. It’s designed to figure out what happened and what we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Warren stated.
Among those left to testify over the next two days, are people who were on board the boat when the accident happened.