We previously reported it here, Leesfield Scolaro represents the families of two fatally injured victims who died when they were parasailing near Key West in July 2020. The captain was charged with manslaughter for conducting parasailing activities in winds too strong under Florida Law. Early on in our investigation it became clear from the collected weather data and the testimony obtained later in the case that the operator should have cancelled all parasailing activities hours before the incident occurred. All signs of inclement, dangerous weather and gusty winds were present. The other two parasailing tour operators had cancelled their activities, but captain Andrew John Santeiro pushed through and exposed Nicholas Hayward, 36, and Azalea Silva, 29, to a grave peril.
The captain knew at the time that bad weather was coming for having observed a gathering storm on the other side of the island prior to embarking twelve passengers on his boat. Nonetheless, he disregarded the risk and pushed through. He also knew that the anemometer (instrument for measuring the speed of the wind) aboard the ship was broken and that he would have to rely solely on weather apps downloaded on his phone to obtain limited information. Not only does the phone fail to provide real-time reading, it also fails to provide accurate information relative to the precise location of the boat. To add insult to injury, captain Santeiro said he does not even remember checking the weather on his phone before the flight.
So he deployed the chute (wrong-size) with Nicholas and Azalea harnessed to it. Within seconds after sending them up, a gust of wind blew into the chute, almost capsizing the boat. In an instant, the towline broke, releasing the two passengers in flight to be dragged in the water by the inflated chute. At the same time, the towline snapped back into the boat’s propeller, leaving it dead in the water and unable to go rescue the couple stuck under water. Nicholas died at the scene, and Azalea died months later from her injuries.