FWC identifies parasailing company involved in accident that killed woman and injured 2 children
MONROE COUNTY, Florida. – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed Tuesday that the parasailing company involved in a fatal Memorial Day crash near Pigeon Key was Marathon-based Lighthouse Parasail Inc.
Officials say a woman and two children who traveled from Schaumburg, Illinois, were parasailing around 5:30 p.m. Monday when winds picked up, causing the parasail to strike the Old Seven Mile Bridge.
The woman died of her injuries and one of the boys, identified as her nephew, was airlifted to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. The other boy, his son, was slightly injured.
John Callion, who cut the parasail line and helped free the woman and two boys from their harnesses, said the woman and one of the boys were unconscious when he pulled them onto his boat.
“Around 5:30 p.m. I noticed a parasailing boat in a storm,” Callion posted on his Facebook page. “It went from calm, flat conditions to 30 mph in seconds. I knew immediately that the result was going to be bad. Sure enough, the line connected to the parasailer broke.
“As I continued to watch, it was very obvious that the parasailing boat needed assistance as they were chasing the parasailer with 3 people connected. The parasailer was heading towards the 7 mile bridge at high speed. They probably covered a distance of 1-2 miles At first and from a distance the bridge seemed like a saving grace to prevent the parasail from traveling any further.
“Unfortunately the victims came into contact with the wing wall section of the bridge and it was at high speed. I was the first boat on the scene. Myself with my two passengers on board, I cut the harnesses to free each victim from the attached parachute, which was hooked to the deck.
Callion brought the victims to the Sunset Grill, which is located at the east end of the bridge, and they were met there by authorities.
“My passengers immediately started CPR until we came ashore,” he wrote in his Facebook post. “Once the victims were on board, I quickly drove the boat to Sunset Grill as quickly as possible to meet with authorities.”
An official incident report said the woman and one of the children were unconscious when they arrived at the restaurant, where rescue maneuvers were carried out.
The child was finally able to open his eyes and was alert when he was taken to hospital. The woman was pronounced dead and her next of kin were notified at the scene, as the report said there were between 10 and 12 family members, including her husband.
The accident is still under investigation by the FWC and the US Coast Guard.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the deceased during this time,” the FWC said in a statement.
“My heart and prayers go out to the victims, I truly did everything I could,” Callion wrote. “The one female was pronounced dead on arrival and the other boy who was unconscious was brought back to life by my male client on board en route to the dock and local paramedics met us at the dock to continue recovery measures rescue. In conclusion. Never take life for granted. Things can change in a second.
The Lighthouse Parasail Inc. website boasts an “impeccable safety record”.
Local 10 News contacted Lighthouse Parasail Inc., and a co-owner said over the phone he was “devastated” by what happened.
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