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Captain indicted in parasailing accident

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The captain at the helm of a parasailing boat when two passengers fell out of the sail has been indicted in the accident, which happened in St. Thomas last year. One person died.

Kyle Coleman, 32, was charged with one count (18 U.S.C.A. § 1115. Misconduct or neglect of ship officers) in the death of Bernice G. Kraftcheck, according to a U.S. Coast Guard statement. Coleman was arrested Nov. 7 and released on bond.

Coleman operated the parasailing excursion boat Turtle on Nov. 15, 2011, for Caribbean Watersports & Tours, a company based in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Kraftcheck and her daughter, Danielle Haese, were on a shore excursion from a cruise ship at the time. They were hoisted in tandem into the air for the parasail ride, despite deteriorating wind conditions, according to the indictment.

The strong winds and a weak tow-line caused the tow-line to break, resulting in the parasail separating from the vessel and the two women falling into the water. They were dragged for several minutes, causing the death of Kraftcheck and serious injuries to Haese, according to a blog by the women’s lawyer, Leesfield & Partners in Miami. Attorney Ira Leesfield has represented several people and their families involved in parasailing accidents and has been pressing for regulations, guidelines, and oversight of the parasailing industry.

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Everard E. Potter. Coleman faces a sentence of not more than 10 years.

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