Articles Tagged with Parasailing

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On November 7, 2012, Kyle Coleman was arrested and indicted in the parasailing accident which caused the death of Bernice Kraftcheck. Almost a year ago to the day, Coleman, 32, was the captain of a small boat Turtle, in charge of performing parasailing excursions for Caribbean Watersports & Tours, a corporation based out of the U.S. Virgin Island.

Bernice Kraftcheck and her daughter Danielle Haese were on a Celebrity Cruise at the time, aboard the Celebrity Eclipse. They purchased the St. Thomas shore excursion aboard the cruise ship. According to the indictment, when the mother/daughter tandem was lifted up in the parasail, the wind conditions were deteriorating rapidly. Within minutes, the tow-line broke due to increasingly strong winds, and caused the parasail and its two occupants to plummet from the sky and crash into the water. The force of the wind and the water condition were such that the parasail was continuously propelled and dragged the two passengers for several minutes, causing the death of Bernice and serious injuries to her daughter Danielle.

Kyle Coleman.jpgSince these tragic events took place last November, the Coast Guard performed a meticulous investigation by marine casualty investigators and special agents from San Juan. The Coast Guard inspected the vessel and found numerous inadequacies, including an inadequate tow-line, and deficient vessel equipment. The master on the vessel was also unlicensed at the time of the incident. Based on these findings and countless witness accounts, Coleman was arrested and charged by a federal grand jury with being responsible for the accident. The one-count indictment is pursuant to 18 U.S.C.A. § 1115. Misconduct or neglect of ship officers. The statute provides in part that a captain employed on a vessel, by whose misconduct, negligence, or inattention to his duties, the life of any person is destroyed, shall be fined or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

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Bernice Kraftcheck, a Celebrity Cruises passenger, fell to her death while parasailing in tandem with her daughter off the coast of St. Thomas. Danielle Haese, Brenice’s 34 year old daughter was also very seriously injured during the incident.

After several days of investigating the facts of this tragic incident, the theory that squalls and wind gusts that afternoon may have caused the mother-and-daughter tandem to fall from the sky and crash into the waters of St Thomas. Celebrity Cruises announced that it was terminating parasailing excursions pending the result of the investigation. Other Cruise companies followed suit and Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have also suspended their parasailing excursions across the Caribbean. Carnival Cruise also canceled its parasailing excursions in St. Thomas, but not in the rest of the Caribbean.

parasailing1.gifBernice Kraftcheck and her daughter were passengers on a Celebrity Cruise and booked a cruise excursion through the cruise company’s website. Cruise lines offer passengers to book excursions, such as parasailing, either directly on the cruise lines’ website, or while on the ship at any time during the cruise.

Deadly and catastrophic accidents occur every year when cruise passengers are on excursions, and this incident, as tragic as it was, was not the first time a cruise passenger died while on a cruise excursion.

The cruise lawyers of Leesfield Scolaro have been representing passengers who have been injured during shore excursions, as well as the families of cruise passengers who died during an excursion. These shore excursions are operated by companies independent from the Cruise companies. There is however a financial relationship between the cruise lines and the local tour companies who offer excursions to cruise passengers. Cruise lines offer their paying passengers to book directly from the cruise lines’ websites an excursion, or to book it at the excursion desk located on each and every cruise ship. In exchange, the local tour companies agree to pay the cruise lines a percentage of their sales that are generated by cruise lines.
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