• An Ibiza parasailing company, owned and operated by Brit Mr James Killeen, has been ordered to pay 16,000€ compensation to two young siblings who suffered brain injuries as a result of an ascent in storm conditions.
  • Mr Killeen, who continues to operate his parasailing service from the kiosks on San Antonio waterfront, has been adjudged negligent for failing to observe ‘yellow alert’ weather warnings that had been issued by Spanish meteorological service AEMET for the time of the trip in 2014. 

by Nick Gibbs

Appeal Court Overturns Judgement

The Audiencia of Palma today condemned the Ibizan parasailing company owned by Mr Killeen, ordering a punitive payment of 16,372€ to be paid in compensation and damages. The case concerned events of the afternoon of September 24, 2014 in Sant Josep, when two siblings, a woman of 31 years and a young man of 22, made a parasailing trip.

The case had initially been heard in Ibiza which found in favour of Mr Killeen, however the fourth section of the provincial court today overturned the decision, finding in favour of the plaintiff family who suffered injuries as a result.

The Incident

According to the plaintiffs, during their ascent, gusts of wind that were already evident at the beginning of the trip were getting much stronger. The gusts were causing strong jerks and rapid changes of direction, however the captain of the boat, Mr James Killeen, did not seek to terminate the trip, but continued.

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The parachute was dragged further and further away from the boat until the rope that connected them broke and the parachute was floating adrift. The strong wind pushed it with its occupants towards the coast, until it hit the Hotel Milord.

The plaintiffs were held by the ropes, hanging from a hotel lightning rod, nine stories high, from where they were rescued.

Commando Training

At the time of the incident, The Ibizan gave Mr Killeen, known locally as Jimmy, the opportunity to explain the incident. In an interview he said that he was blameless in the matter, and that the brother and sister’s final resting place was a controlled action. Speaking in 2014 he said the landing was a result of 30 years experience in parasailing. “I had them lined up with the Satellite dishes and Antennae on top of the Milord hotel. I knew that the satellite dish would be the perfect way to collapse the parachute which would drop them safely onto the roof of the Milord. It was going perfectly until the last second when a very strong gust banged them against the wall and ultimately the rope did break.” Other reports stated that the rope had sheared earlier resulting in the couple being carried by wind over one building and into free air before being snagged on the Milord rooftop. Jimmy said this was not true. “These reports are rubbish. They don’t know what they are talking about. I started parasailing in 1980 and in my time I’ve even taught Commandos how to parasail onto landing craft. I know what I’m doing.“

Court Quotes Meteorological Forecasts

The court did not agree with the earlier dismissal of the claim, quoting two reports issued by meteorologists indicating that the strong winds that occurred on the day of the accident were predictable and that a storm alert had been issued, which until 3.20pm had a yellow status showing winds of up to 71 kilometers per hour, that had then become orange with winds of up to 120 km/h.

James Killeen's Ibiza Parasailing Company Ordered to Pay 16,000€ Compensation
The brother looks over his shoulder at the coming storm in a video still. Inset, owner Mr James ‘Jimmy’ Killeen.

According to two meteorologists consulted in this case, the weather in Ibiza at the time of the accident (between 15.45 and 16.00) corresponded to the weather forecast.

The court affirmed that the breaking of the rope that joined the parachute with the boat “by itself already implies presumption of fault of the defendant”.

It added that the responsibility and “the obligation to consult the meteorological service and to adjust to the forecasts does not concern the users of the activity, who assume the inherent risks to it, it is the responsibility of the vessel”.

According to the court, “faced with the evident risk of strong winds, he had to take the precaution of not allowing the trip to continue, something he did not do”.

At the time of the incident Mr Killeen contended it was the fault of the weather forecasters. He said “People shouldn’t be blaming me they should be blaming the weather forecasters. This was like that Michael Fish day when he said everything was going to be fine. We always check the weather and there was no indication of possible problems”.

Special Risk

The fourth section of the Audiencia de Palma said that given the “dangerousness of parasailing and the special risk it poses to the physical integrity of people, risk analysis requires extreme diligence, raising the degree of caution that the owner of the activity should have”.

According to a forensic report, both plaintiffs suffered traumatic brain injuries, contusions and lacerations. In the case of the woman it took 60 days to recover, and her brother 90.

The court also accepted the non-contractual claim of the father of the injured, for the expenses he had to pay as a result of the accident, such as medical bills, taxis and new plane tickets back to Germany that the court considered “prudent”

Footnote

Following The Ibizan’s publication of Mr Killeen’s explanation in 2014, we received a copy of the video taken during the flight, that had apparently disappeared, anonymously in the post. It was delivered with the comment “perhaps after viewing the video you will concur that Mr Killeen lead you down the garden path and that just perhaps the victims deserve a copy of their video”.

We also received a letter from the family objecting to Mr Killeen’s account.

Both are included here https://theibizan.com/parasailing-accident-missing-video/

Somebody campaigned to have our video removed from Youtube, however it can still be seen on the Noudiari post here https://www.noudiari.es/2014/11/asi-vivieron-las-victimas-el-peligroso-accidente-de-parasailing-en-cala-de-bou-video/