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Health of teenagers injured in Panama City parasailing accident improving amidst questions about potential Parasail operator’s negligence

According to the latest reports, both teenagers’ health are slowly improving and their respective doctors are expecting both girls to recover from their traumatic injuries. The family of Sidney Renea Good and Alexis Fairchild, 17-year-old girls from Huntington and Roanoke, Indiana, have shared that their daughters have both suffered head trauma and severe lacerations. However they are both communicating with their doctors and close family members with small hand gestures.

Earlier this week, Sidney and Alexis purchased a parasail ride with Aquatic Adventures in Panama City. While both girls were up in the air, the weather deteriorated and strong winds rolled onto the the shore. The rope of the parasail snapped and both girls, who were riding in tandem, were catapulted onto a condominium near the shore, before hitting a power line or a utility pole. They crashed seconds later on top of an SUV in a nearby parking lot. Both girls were breathing at the scene, but one of them was knocked unconscious.

Sidney Good Alexis Fairchild.jpgThe statement released by the family of the two girls reads as follows: “Alexis has severe back injuries and Sidney has neck trauma. However, we are fortunately seeing some positive signs from both Sidney and Alexis. Sidney has been responsive to caregivers and has been able to use small movements to communicate including a thumbs up for her parents. Alexis had surgery (Wednesday) on her spine and has also been responsive including a small wave at her parents when she returned from surgery. Our families are incredibly touched by all the support we’ve received from friends at home and from many people we haven’t met before who are praying for our girls. While the situation is still critical we are encouraged by these very small signs of progress. We have heard from so many generous people who have offered to help and we are working to establish a fund for the medical care of both Sidney and Alexis. We will have more information on that to come. Thank you again to all who are thinking of and praying for our girls. Your prayers are working!”

Investigation focuses on Aquatic Adventures and the operator of the boat
While the parents, families and friends of Sidney and Alexis continue to hope for a full recovery, the Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s investigation is still ongoing and should be not be concluded anytime soon, according to their statement.

The investigation has focused on several elements already: The weather, the equipment used, and the operator’s potential negligence. Several reports have indicated that before the two minors were sent up in the Panama City cloud-building sky, a storm was already in effect nearby. Within minutes of lifting the girls in tandem on the parasail, winds began to increase at rapid pace causing mayhem aboard the boat. The chute of the parasail was blowing in an inland direction, causing the boat, the Why Not to be pushed towards the shore. In just a few minutes, the situation became uncontrollable and the operator of the Why Not, Tyler Churchwell, decided to anchor down the boat in an attempt to prevent the boat from grounding on the beach.

That is when the real catastrophe occurred. The towline linking the parasail, and its two minor occupants, to the boat snapped due to the force of the wind. Investigators will look at the rope that was used that day. In a prior parasailing accident case, the rope used by the negligent operator was inadequate for the parasailing activity. The manufacturer of the rope had confirmed to investigators that he had stopped any and all commercial activities with parasailing operators because his ropes were being recklessly misused by these operators.

Investigators will also take a closer look at the type and size of chute that was used during Sidney and Alexis’ ride. Prior to sending anybody up on the parasail, the operator ought to calculate the combined weight of the customers, the wind conditions, and determine which chute is proper for the ride. In another parasailing accident case where Leesfield & Partners represented the victims, the chute used was determined to be much too large for the combined weight of the customers which gravely contributed to the accident and their demise.

Leesfield & Partners will continue to report on this latest tragic, yet preventable, parasailing accident in Panama City. Follow this link to read more of our reporting on parasailing accident.

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