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Inquiry continues after parasailing death of Connecticut woman

On family vacation, you may decide to take a boating excursion, rent a jetski, or go parasailing on the ocean. Even if you sign a waiver, you expect that these activities are safe and that equipment is in working condition. In a tragic case this summer, a 28-year-old Connecticut woman fell nearly 200 feet in a parasailing accident that caused her death. Now investigators are identifying all responsible individuals and entities involved in the tragic fall and potential wrongful death.

The woman was strapped into her harness next to her husband of three years, when the harness malfunctioned. According to an initial investigation, the harness that held the woman was sheared, causing the victim to plummet to her death in the ocean below. The boat crew quickly reeled in the other passenger then returned to the site of the fall, where the woman floated faced down. She was pronounced dead at the hospital and her cause of death was determined to be "asphyxia due to drowning and multiple blunt force injuries."

Experts who studied the video said that the two support straps appeared sheared at the seams or stitch points. A sheared harness could be the result of poor manufacturing, failed maintenance, or neglect on behalf of the parasailing operators.

The woman's death is now at the center of a multi-agency investigation, spearheaded by the Florida Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and including the U.S. Coast Guard, the Broward Sheriff's Office and the National Transportation Safety Board. The agencies are still gathering facts about the accident.

The parasailing company, an affiliated hotel and the manufacturers could be held liable if negligence is found in this case. However, maritime law could complicate liability issues in this case.

Source: Miami Herald, "Parasailing death inquiry to focus on equipment," Daniel Chang, Julie K. Brown and Carli Teproff, Aug. 22, 2012

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