The captain of a vessel that was involved in a fatal parasailing accident has pleaded guilty for his role in the tragic incident. According to the U.S. Justice Department, 45-year-old Thomas Povazan, of West Mifflin, Pennsylvania pleaded guilty on Nov. 14 while in court. Povazan was accused of failing to check the weather before taking the victims out to the ocean for the parasailing adventure.
The maritime accident in question dates back to August 2009 and took place in Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina. Sixty-year-old Cynthia Woodcock, of Kernersville, and 45-year-old Lorrie Shoup of Granby, Colorado chose to go parasailing with Povazan when authorities say a strong gust of wind blew upward as the victims were in the air. The wind caused the line connecting their parasail to the tow boat operated by Povazan, the Tied High, to snap. The wind then sent the women into the ocean and they were dragged toward the town’s fishing pier. Both victims died from blunt force trauma.
Povazan was charged with maritime negligence after failing to check the weather conditions to ensure they were safe for a parasailing venture. Although parasailing can be fun and exciting, it can also be an extremely dangerous sport. According to the Parasail Safety Council, a non-profit organization, nearly five million people go parasailing each year and are at a risk of being involved in a serious – if not fatal – accident. Statistics show that over 1,200 parasailing accidents have taken place over the past three decades, 400 of which have resulted in serious injuries and over 70 of which have resulted in fatalities. Many of these accidents could have been prevented, just like this particular one, had boat operators exercised more caution and care when dealing with their clients.
In court, it was found that Povazan violated the Seaman’s Manslaughter Act. During the trial, Povazan claimed he was not aware of any unsatisfactory weather conditions but the National Weather Service had issued a small craft advisory warning that day, noting that seas in excess of six feet were expected to create hazardous conditions. The NWS issued several follow-up warnings throughout the day, including a statement declaring that wind gusts were expected to reach 30 mph. The Department of Justice said Povazan did not check the weather report before taking the victims out on the boat and the women were already in the air by the time Povazan realized the winds were too strong.
“We hope that the families of the deceased victims will take some comfort from this prosecution, knowing that Mr. Povazan will be held responsible for his criminally negligent conduct,” said United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker in a press release.
Unfortunately, not all victims of parasailing accidents or their surviving loved ones obtain justice for their pain and suffering. If you or someone you know was hurt or killed due to a malfunction of the boat, harness or tandem failure, or any other negligent act, turn to our maritime lawyers today to file a case. You may be eligible to receive compensation for the incident and our attorneys will strive to help you obtain the damages you rightfully deserve. Call our firm today to discuss your options and protect your rights.