PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fl. (WISH) - Two Indiana teens were hospitalized in critical condition after a parasailing accident in Panama City, Fla. Monday. It is an accident that has brought their Indiana community together as it tries to figure out why.
Sidney Good of Roanoke Indiana and Alexis Fairchild of Huntington are both 17-year-old and both headed into their senior year at Huntington North High School, Southeast of Fort Wayne. The two girls were on vacation in Panama City Beach, Fla.
"They're both like really outgoing girls. Like always having a good time. Always have a smile on their face, " said friend Brooklyn Sweet on the phone from her home in Northeast Indiana Tuesday.
Sweet said Sidney and Alexis were excited about parasailing.
In fact, Alexis tweeted "Going paraceling (sic) with @SidneyGood !! #FreakingOut #Pumped"
But Brooklyn said later, the two sent word of a weather delay.
"'Well they're not letting us on right now to parasail because like the wind was bad, because the storm was coming in.' Then about 30 minutes later, they let them up in the air," said Sweet.
According to the Bay County Sheriff's report, it was about 4 p.m. when the parasail broke loose from the boat.
Doug Mador witnessed the tragedy.
"We were yelling,'please miss the building,' cause I knew if they slammed in it would probably be... because the speed they were going it would probably be pretty traumatic," he said.
The two hit a condo balcony and kept going. Then, they hit power lines and headed for a nearby parking lot.
"When they got close to the ground, of course the parachute dropped and then of course that car, you can tell, pretty big impact," witness Jake Hood said.
The SUV's windshield was broken and there was a huge dent in the vehicle.
"They were in really bad condition when they got transported to the hospital. Like they both had to go into emergency brain surgery. And it was just bad," said Sweet.
Back home in Huntington County, a prayer vigil was held and a fundraising website established.
"We're a small town so it's hit everyone pretty hard, cause like, everyone knows everyone," said Sweet.
Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is leading the investigation. In a news release, the agency said a strong storm initiated problems that led to the crash.
Despite the popularity of parasailing, there are almost no laws regulating the safety of the industry. Experts say you have to watch out for yourself.
Ask how long the company has been in business, make sure the captain is U.S. Coast Guard licensed, and if the weather looks bad or the forecast is iffy, don't go.
One person was critically injured, two others seriously hurt in a head on crash in Greenfield late Wednesday.
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