A hearing has been scheduled by the U.S. Coast Guard for September 23-25 concerning two women who suffered fatal personal injuries in a parasailing accident off Ocean Isle Beach in August.
Authorities say the hearing will help the Coast Guard develop conclusions and recommendations to improve parasailing vessel safety.
On August 28, 60-year-old Kernersville resident Cynthia Woodcock and 55-year-old Granby, Colorado resident Lorrie Shoup were parasailing off Ocean Isle Beach during a trip with Woodcock’s aunt, Cary resident Sybil Carpenter, and another friend. As they were parasailing, the tow rope broke, and they plummeted into the choppy water. An autopsy showed the cause of death to be blunt force trauma.
At the time, Tropical Storm Danny was creating high wind and choppy waves along the coast. However, tropical storm watches covering the Outer Banks didn’t extend southward to Ocean Isle Beach.
During the hearing, the Coast Guard will listen to testimony from the parasailing boat’s crew, Tied High, several passengers, and representatives of the National Weather Service and the Professional Association of Parasail Operators.
After the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board helped the Coast Guard to test and analyze the parasailing chute, harness, towline, and associated equipment.
Shortly after the accident, N.C. Watersports, the company that operated the boat, closed for the summer.
Parasailing operators are not regulated by the Coast Guard or the state Department of Labor. According to officials, it is considered a recreational activity, like hang-gliding or skydiving.
However, the Coast Guard still issued a safety alert to the parasailing industry on September 17 to remind operators to pay close attention to current and forecasted weather and sea conditions, particularly wind speed.