Report: Lack of communication contributed to Eglin airman’s death

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 01:41 PM.

They also did not use the radio to make it clear to all boats involved after the student had been put in the water.

A second student had been launched on a parasail, and then a third boat went to launch a third student.

That boat’s captain reported that he was unaware that the injured student had been put in the water, the report said. The captain misidentified the injured student as Knowlan.

The safety officer onboard noticed two students in the water, but did not communicate that to the captain or continue to monitor the students, according to the report. Instead, he monitored the parasail, which he felt was fundamental to his safety duties.

“His decision to disregard students ahead and look around did not incorporate other facts he also knew: that tow boats routinely pass very near students, that tow boat path can be unpredictable … and that everyone else (on the boat) was already looking backward at the parasail,” the report states.

At 11 a.m., about one minute after starting their tow, the crew felt the boat hit something in the water. They noticed Knowlan’s helmet floating near the boat and realized what had happened.

A rescue swimmer found Knowlan lodged under the boat and reported that he appeared to be dead, according to the report.

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