PANAMA CITY BEACH — A pair of Indiana teenagers were in critical condition after a parasailing crash Monday afternoon, officials said.
Witnesses said strong winds from a passing storm tossed two 17-year-old women, Sidney Renea Good and Alexis Fairchild, both of Roanoke, Ind., after a line connecting them to a boat detached.
“We need all the prayers for these girls that we can get,” Eric Good, Sidney’s father, said Tuesday morning.
Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the incident. In a news release the agency said a strong storm initiated problems that led to the crash.
“These winds kept the chute aloft and several attempts to winch the riders back onto the vessel failed,” the news release states. “The anchor was set to keep the boat from being pulled onto shore. The towline detached and the riders were helpless to control the chute.”
The captain of the boat, the “Why Knot,” was 30-year-old Tyler Churchwell for Aquatic Adventures. He declined to comment for this story.
Several witnesses said the victims were in a tandem harness under a parachute that detached from a boat.
Cole Adair and Michael Kennedy, on vacation from Georgia, were bleeding after they jumped a fence to get to the victims, who smashed into a condominium and then were carried into a power line near Thomas Drive around 4 p.m. before crashing into several vehicles in the parking lot, where they came to rest.
The impact caved in the roof and front windshield of an SUV in the parking lot.
“It was gruesome,” Kennedy said.
Good and Fairchild were rushed to the hospital after Monday’s incident. Others who came to their aid in the parking lot said both were breathing, but only one was conscious at the time.
Kennedy and Adair said both victims went limp after crashing into the side of The Commodore Condominiums and stayed that way for several seconds before they reached the ground.
“It seemed like a long time,” Adair said.
Amy Barron, of Alabama, watched helplessly from the RV park across Thomas Drive. She said she saw the women hit either a power line or a utility pole before they crashed in the parking lot.
“We knew they were going to hit, but there was nothing we could do about it,” Barron said.
Parker Dixon, of Georgia, said he saw an electrical explosion when the victims made contact with the power line or pole.
Investigators with the Bay County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Coast Guard and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission were on scene interviewing witnesses as crowds gathered to watch from the balconies of nearby rental units. Karen Parker said investigators are looking into the possibility of an equipment failure, but the investigation “might take a while.”