Boat captain pleads guilty after 2 NC parasailing deaths

From staff reportsNovember 14, 2012 

— A boat captain of a vessel used for parasailing pleaded guilty to violations of the Seaman’s Manslaughter Act for negligence that resulted in the deaths of two women in 2009, according to a U.S. Department of Justice release.

Cynthia Woodcock, 60, of Kernersville and Lorrie Shoup, 54, of Granby, Colo., were killed Aug. 28 parasailing off Ocean Isle Beach. The women were towed by a ship captained by Thomas Povazan, 45, of West Mifflin, Pa.

Povazan was accused of failing to check the weather before taking his clients out on the ocean.

A small craft wind advisory, with wind gusts up to 23 mph, was in effect from Aug. 27 to Aug. 29. The wind was almost twice the speed that the chute was rated to handle.

Povazan realized the conditions were unsafe after the women were in the air, but it was too late. An investigation into the accident found that Povazan tried to reel in the tow rope, but it detached from the vessel and dragged the women across the water while he tried to catch the chute and deflate it.

After failing to deflate the chute, Povazan maneuvered his vessel in front of the women to block the chute. The women violently struck the stern of the vessel and were pulled over the boat and back into the water, according to the Justice Department.

On the next attempt, Povazan and his deckhand were able to deflate the chute.

The coroner’s report stated that the women suffered severe blunt force trauma.

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