Debi Chalik, founding partner of Chalik & Chalik Law Offices, was featured in the media last month when she publicly urged Gov. Rick Scott to sign new legislation that requires parasailing operators to take safety precautions and carry insurance. She was also quoted in local news coverage about the legislation, which is designed to reduce fatalities and make parasailing safer for residents and tourists.
Chalik has been a proponent of stricter regulations for commercial parasailing operators ever since she represented the father of 15-year-old Amber White, who was killed in Pompano Beach in 2007 after she went parasailing and became disconnected from the boat that was towing her. Chalik now represents Alexis Fairchild, who suffered severe head and spine injuries last summer when her parasail broke away from its boat in high winds and threw her against a building.
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“Despite the fact that between 1982 and 2012, 73 people have died and another 1,600 have been injured in parasailing accidents, the industry operates virtually unregulated. Something has to change, and we are almost there,” she said in a letter to the editor that appeared in the May 7th Miami Herald. “We hope Gov. Scott signs this bill, which will make parasailing operators more responsible, while reducing the incidence of serious injuries and fatalities,” Chalik said in the letter.
Gov. Scott signed the bill on June 13th. Sponsored by Sen. Maria Sachs and passed by the legislature last month, it prevents commercial parasailing operators from going out when the weather is windy, when visibility is poor or when there is a lightning storm within seven miles. It requires them to have $1 million in insurance and maintain weather logs. It also mandates safety briefings for participants and licensure by the Coast Guard.
The new law is known as the White-Miskell act, in honor of White and Kathleen Miskell, who was killed when her parasailing harness broke and she fell into the ocean in Pompano Beach in 2012.
Chalik was quoted in a May 15th Hi-Riser article about the new regulations.
“We believe by having these minimal requirements in place, it will require the parasailing operators to be more accountable and make sure they’re operating safely and not doing reckless things,” she told the newspaper. Chalik also said that her client, Alexis Fairchild, is pleased that the new regulations may help prevent catastrophic accidents like hers from happening in the future.
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