Captain and Company Sentenced in Fatal Parasailing Accident
St. Thomas, USVI – District Court Judge Curtis V. Gomez on Friday sentenced the captain of a vessel that was involved in a fatal parasailing accident just outside of the Charlotte Amalie Harbor in 2011 to six months home confinement, announced United States Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe, United States Coast Guard Sector San Juan Commander Captain Drew W. Pearson, and Coast Guard South East Region Criminal Investigative Services Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Sall.
Captain Kyle Coleman, 33, also was ordered to serve one year of supervised release, 150 hours of community service with the United States Coast Guard, and pay restitution in the amount of $1,350,663.18 to the victims of the parasailing accident, joint and several with CWS Tours Inc., LLC.
CWS Tours also was sentenced to one year of supervised probation and 150 hours of community service with the United States Coast Guard.
On June 10, 2013, Coleman pleaded guilty to operating the motor vessel, Turtle, in a negligent manner, thereby causing the death of a passenger while on a parasailing excursion. The owner of CWS Tours, which owned the vessel, pleaded no contest and acknowledged that it was negligent with respect to the vessel, and as a result someone’s life was destroyed.
According to the plea documents filed in court, Coleman was the captain of the Turtle at the time it was conducting parasailing excursions on November 15, 2011, when a passenger, Bernice G. Kraftcheck, was killed. Kraftcheck and her daughter, Danielle Haese, were hoisted into the air for the parasail ride as wind conditions were deteriorating. The strong winds and a weak towline caused the towline to break, resulting in the parasail separating from the vessel and the two women falling into the water. The wind then propelled the parasail, with the women still attached, at a very high rate of speed causing the death of Kraftcheck and serious injuries to Haese.
This case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Everard E. Potter.