This week, a tragic parasailing incident took the life of 36-year-old Nicholas Hayward and critically injured 28-year-old Azalea Silva. This is a very sad reminder that Florida laws regulating – or attempting to regulate – the parasailing industry are still utterly inadequate and do not protect life. A very similar case was handled by Leesfield Scolaro in 2007, which resulted in the passage of the very first law of its kind in the state of Florida. Ira Leesfield and Thomas Scolaro have been at the forefront of this issue, and it is time for reform.
The Miami Herald has reported on the latest incident that the commercial boat used to launch tourists up their parasail was operated by Sunset Watersports. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which investigates all boating accidents, has already stated that “severe weather [was] a contributing factor with this boating accident.” The spokesman for FWC, Officer Bobby Dube, described to reporters that the boat was operating in the middle of “harsh weather” when the incident occurred at around noon. Dube added that the incident took place as the duo began their ascent, they apparently fell very quickly and crashed in the water.
Regulation of the Florida parasailing industry is very light. The Amber May Law came into effect on October 1, 2014. It was named after Amber May, a young teenager who perished in a similar parasailing incident in 2007 in Broward County. Amber and her younger sister were also sent in the air as a duo in the middle of severe weather. Neither the small boat nor the rope could resist the high winds, and ultimately the rope snapped. The girls were catapulted against nearby buildings and hotels. Crystal, Amber May’s sister, lost her best friend and sustained a traumatic brain injury in an incident that was 100% preventable. Leesfield Scolaro filed suit against multiple defendants immediately and secured a settlement on behalf of the family.