Aquatics Expert Witness Testifies In Parasailing Deaths

Aquatics expert witness and president of a national parasail operators association Arrit McPherson testified in a Coast Guard hearing Friday that he routinely takes two safety steps in his business, either of which may have been critical in preventing the deaths of two women Aug. 28 while parasailing at Ocean Isle Beach. The expert witness told Lt. Chester Warren, the Coast Guard’s lead investigator into the accident, that he has his marine radio on when he takes customers on parasail flights. Before they embark, he has them read safety information that includes how to unhook the harness from the sail if they land in water. That is reinforced verbally and with demonstrations once customers are aboard.

Those steps were not taken for N.C. Watersports customers the day Cynthia Woodcock of Kernersville, N.C., and Lorrie Shoup of Granby, Colo., were killed. Witnesses who were on the N.C. Watersports boat with the victims when the incident occurred said they got no safety information before or during that 1 p.m. trip. The line connecting them to the boat broke and the women were carried to their death near the Ocean Isle fishing pier.

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