Local News

Dead woman's family calls for parasailing regulations

Posted August 31, 2009
Updated September 21, 2009

— The family of a woman killed Friday in a parasailing accident said Monday that the state needs to regulate the activity.

Cynthia Woodcock, 60, of Kernersville, and Lorrie Shoup, 55, of Granby, Colo., went parasailing off Ocean Isle Beach while on a trip with Woodcock's aunt, Sybil Carpenter of Cary, and another friend. The tow rope for their parasail snapped, and Woodcock and Shoup plummeted into the choppy water. An autopsy showed they died of blunt force trauma.

Parasail accident, parasail operator, parasailing State, Coast Guard don't oversee parasail operators

"I'm trying to control it right now. I'm doing everything I can," said Woodcock's son, Bart Woodcock.

He described his mother as having a bubbly personality and said she adored her two grandsons. A memorial service for her was scheduled for Monday night.

"I can't believe I lost my mom this way, and I want to know if it could have been avoided," he said.

The Coast Guard is investigating the incident, including the weather conditions near Ocean Isle Beach at the time of the accident. Tropical Storm Danny was kicking up wind and waves along much of the coast on Friday, but tropical storm watches that covered the Outer Banks didn't extend southward to Ocean Isle Beach.

Bart Woodcock's wife, Tyisha, said she can't understand why the boat went out at all in the choppy waters, especially with several families aboard.

"There were kids on the boat, and the kids were crying before this even happened because the water was so rough," Tyisha Woodcock said. "Little kids had to witness this. They had to take part in this. I can't even imagine what they're going through, what the other woman's family is going through."

N.C. Watersports, the company that operated the parasailing boat, is closed for the summer, according to a message on its answering machine.

Neither the Coast Guard nor the state Department of Labor regulate parasailing operators. Officials said it is considered a recreational activity, like hang-gliding or skydiving.

"If it's not regulated, then it needs to be," Tyisha Woodcock said.

Bart Woodcock said he's determined to get state lawmakers to pass regulations on the industry.

"I've never been more determined to do anything in my life," he said. "I'm not going to stop. You can bet on that."

75 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • mpheels Sep 1, 3:52 p.m.

    This is a case of equipment failure. Chances are the rope would have failed, tropical storm or not. And if the ropes fails while towing para-sailors, the outcome isn't going to be good, even with perfect weather. In other words, this could have happened a week later w/ no storm to blame and the company would be at fault for failing to properly maintain their equipment.

    When a person pays to participate in an activity like this they are acting on good faith that the activity operator is using properly maintained equipment and knows what conditions are/aren't safe. Excessive regulation won't help, but I'm kind of shocked to hear their isn't any kind of license requirement to run a para-sailing business. You have to get a license to serve food or cut hair all in the name of public health and safety, why no license to offer/conduct such recreational activities?

  • Tired of thoughtlessness Sep 1, 10:52 a.m.

    Why would you go out parasailing in the midst of a pending storm? Is it not the fault of the people who CHOSE to go? The adults are responsible for themselves, correct?

  • eddytour Sep 1, 10:28 a.m.

    I went parasailing with the same people in Ocean Isle back in July. I was impressed with how safety-conscious they were. Yes, you wear life vests. You are strapped onto a seat. I went up 800 feet. You are told every step of the way what to do. I'm sorry for what happened to these women, but no one forced them to go parasailing on this date. There was no magnet that lured them onto that boat. They made a choice. Unfortunately, it was the wrong choice. And I don't know why anyone would go up in the air when it was cloudy like that anyway.

  • BubbaDuke Sep 1, 10:21 a.m.

    Sorry for the multiple posts above. GOLO said that my posts were similar to other ones I've made and wouldn't post, then when I edited it, they posted the others.

  • BubbaDuke Sep 1, 10:20 a.m.

    Sorry for the multiple posts above. GOLO said that my posts were similar to other ones I've made and wouldn't post, then when I edited it, they posted the others. I do feel sorry for the families. Love 'em while you have them (and before the government forbids us to do anything but work to pay taxes).

  • BubbaDuke Sep 1, 10:18 a.m.

    Here's what we should take away from this story: take a knife with you when you go parasailing so that if the rope breaks, you can cut away the chute. Lesson learned, get on with life.

  • BubbaDuke Sep 1, 10:15 a.m.

    If it's determined that the company used bad judgement for going out in rough water, then sue the company; don't make it impossible for others to enjoy the sport. I want to go up on a parasail someday. I'll take a knife with me to cut away the chute if the rope fails. Lesson learned.

  • BubbaDuke Sep 1, 10:11 a.m.

    I feel for the families, and especially for those who witnessed the women drown, but more legislation isn't going to keep people from getting hurt. I'm sure they had to sign a waiver before they were allowed on the boat; and if they did - it means that there are already laws on the books about what a business can and should be liable for. If it's determined that the company used bad judgement for going out in rough water, then sue the company; don't make it impossible for others to enjoy the sport. I want to go up on a parasail someday. I'll take a knife with me to cut away the chute if the rope fails. Lesson learned.

  • Bob3425 Sep 1, 10:01 a.m.

    it was a sorry accident, however I don't think more laws are needed. Parasailing or Parachuting is dangerous my itself and comes with risk. If the tow line broke this company equipment was fault, I am just suprized the boat couldn't turn around quick enough to save them. New laws won't bring the individual back, for blame I sure everyone involved has some to share.

    I am sorry for the family and their lost.

  • DrJ Sep 1, 9:51 a.m.

    I feel very badly for the family, as I do for all that lose their mothers. But having said that, I'm definitely AGAINST is fabricating a bunch of knee jerk regulations based on a single, freakish occurrence.

More...