What happened:

The captain of a parasailing boat has pled guilty to violating the Seaman’s Manslaughter Act in connection for the deaths of two women, who were killed off Ocean Isle Beach in August, 2009. The defendant was operating the boat, Tied High, which was owned by Ocean Isle Beach Watersports and NC Watersports.

 The victims, Cynthia Woodcock, 60, of Kernersville, and Lorrie Shoup, 55, of Granby, Colo., died when the tow line to their parasail broke, and high winds sent the parasail plunging 500 feet into the water. The women were dragged in the water and hit the boat.

 According to a report on WRAL, prosecutors say the defendant never checked the National Weather Service either before or during the trip. He testified at a 2009 Coast Guard inquiry that he was unaware of the weather advisory that had been issued, warning small boats of choppy waters because of an approaching tropical storm. Crew members testified during that inquiry that a sudden gust of wind had caught them off guard and the boat almost capsized before the tow line broke. There was also testimony that the defendant had ordered his deckhand to use a parachute made for 12 mph, even though the wind was gusting at 23 mph.

In December of 2011, a federal court ordered Marine Specialty Management, the boat company’s insurer, to pay $100,000 to the victim’s family. In September, the insurance company was ordered to finish paying the families the remaining $40,000 left on the amount. The captain is set to be sentenced at a later date.


The North Carolina Injury Lawyer Perspective:

 No amount of money could ever compensate for the death of a loved one. But when that death is caused by the negligent actions of someone else, then families have the right to file suit in order to hold someone liable for their loved one’s death, just as these two victims’ families did. A civil court ruled that the captain, and therefore the company he represented, was negligent in their duties to protect the safety of these two women. If you have lost a family member in a boating accident caused by someone else, contact a North Carolina wrongful death attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for your loss. 

Ocean Isle, NC

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