Parasailing Accident, The Missing Video

  • 27th October 2014
  • Nicholas Gibbs

The original go-pro film of the parasailing accident in Cala De Bou on Wednesday 25th September 2014 can be viewed below. It had been claimed that the video had been lost.

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The video was sent to the Ibizan anonymously with a note stating that “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”.

Parasailing Accident, The Missing Video
Parasailing Accident, The Missing Video

The video clearly shows the parasailing boat going out from San Antonio harbour into very dark skies.  In his previous interview James Killeen stated “When we took the couple out there was no sign or forecast of bad weather. It was a very calm sea with hardly any wind. We had them flying 300m up when I noticed the first very thin line of bad weather on the horizon.” The full interview is given below together with the family of the victim’s response the following week in which they disputed the skipper’s account. They also raised their suspicion as to the disappearance of the go-pro video.

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We talked to James Killeen Tuesday. James said “I’m glad the video has been found. It went missing at the time of the accident, but we got it back. The video proves I did nothing wrong.  You can see the sea is totally calm. You can see me turn back at full speed when the storm struck. We got them right down. They went into the sea at one point, we were that close. The video shows I did everything right.”

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At 6:10 the boat has changed course back towards land.

At 11 minutes it is clear the flight is in trouble. It is hard to judge exactly what was happening for the next few minutes as the camera spins out of control.

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At 11.50 the building is struck. There are brief images of the parachute and ropes caught in the antenna, and the brother and sister suspended on their harnesses.

At 14 minutes the sister is heard shouting ‘help me’.

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From approx 14:10 the video we received is corrupted for the remainder of the 29 minute duration. We do not know if this is a corruption on the original video, or the copy that has been made and sent to us.

Original interview with James Killeen

  • Issue 754 2nd October 2014

As reported briefly as late news in last week’s Ibizan, a parasailing accident occurred in the bay of San Antonio last Wednesday. The accident caused considerable discussion on Social media, some of it extremely critical, and caught the attention of the print and television press. Today we had the opportunity of talking directly with skipper James Killen who presents a very different picture of what happened.

“When we took the couple out there was no sign or forecast of bad weather. It was a very calm sea with hardly any wind. We had them flying 300m up when I noticed the first very thin line of bad weather on the horizon. I said we’re getting them in now and we turned for home but before we knew it the weather was on us. It was here so quickly, in seconds.” Jimmy then when on to explain his manoeuvres in relation to the wind and drag of the parachute—all a bit too technical for this landlubber to follow—but reinforced by eyewitnesses who watched the accident unfold saying that the crew tried hard to control the situation by putting the boat face into the wind and by coming close to the shore presumably to get some shelter. Jimmy continued “it usually takes 2 minutes to get the ‘chute in, but after 15 minutes of fighting I just knew it wasn’t going to happen. A parasail line is like a fishing reel, designed with a brake to feed out if the wind is too strong to avoid it breaking. I knew I had to get the parachute collapsed, it is the most important thing to do, and the only way I could see to do it was to let it out to hit something. It was so frustrating—we had them as close in as 15meters at one point.” At this point witnesses described the couple as being “thrown around like puppets suspended around 15 metres in the air”. Conditions by this time were atrocious with intense rain and very strong winds.

Jimmy said his next step was the result of experience spanning over 30 years 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. It was an unfortunate accident at sea, but accidents happen and I dealt with it the best way possible. I started parasailing in 1980 and in my time I’ve even taught Commandoes how to parasail onto landing craft. I know what I’m doing. There was nothing wrong with my equipment, everything has been checked by the marine authorities, it was a new rope only ten days ago. When I went to the (Marine Authority—sorry I forget the name of it-ed) and the Guardia they shook my hand and congratulated me. I saved their life. “

Witnesses described the couple dangling from parasail ropes whilst the wind entangled the parasail around the structures on the hotel roof. Emergency services were soon on the scene (the second unit and the police arrived about 5 minutes after the first), and the couple began to move showing signs of life as they dangled against the wall. Hotel workers reached them within minutes cutting them free and bringing them down to the lobby to wait treatment from the emergency services. Witnesses in the overlooking apartments reported that  there had been a loud bang and sparks when the parasail hit the aerials and other structures on the roof.

Official reports say that the couple suffered head and back injuries. Press reports that the couple were in intensive care are considered to be incorrect given witness statements, and way off Jimmy’s account. “He was pretty well untouched, but she had a cut on her eye. We wanted to get her to hospital to be checked over but she refused to go until she had her handbag, as it had her passport and documents in it, and the handbag was still on the boat. One of my Pals from another firm went and got her the handbag and she then agreed to go to hospital. We went along too, my girlfriend speaks German so she was helping to translate. The girl had two stitches but was otherwise fine. They left the very next day.”

Jimmy also wanted to have his say re where the blame lay. “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. And it goes to show you just can’t believe everything you read in the papers.”

Response by victims family

  • Issue 755 9th October 2014

This letter has been received from the family of the brother and sister injured in the parasailing accident reported last week. It has been edited only so far as aiding translation is required.
Dear Sirs,
I am referring to your article “Parasailing Skipper Says Not At Fault. Actions Saved The Day.” (issue 754 2nd Oct)
There are extremely one-sided statements in the article.
Jimmy (James Killen) says “people shouldn’t be blaming me, but should blame the weather forecasts”
There was a yellow alert warning on that day. So why is this guy taking passengers out on a parachute? He should blame himself for trying to make fast profit without caring about safety (and the weather forecast) at all!
Jimmy said his actions “were a result of 30 years experience”. In this 30 years he obviously managed to forget about safety measures and instead learned how to alter facts. Why else would evidence like the GoPro camera and photos shot from the boat have disappeared?
He goes on to say “These reports are rubbish. It was an unforeseeable accident at sea, I saved their lives” and “putting them down on the hotel was a planned manoeuvre”.
There were dozens of eye witnesses who saw that the parachute was in free air over a large distance. Nothing planned at all!
Of the injuries suffered Jimmy said “He was pretty well untouched”, “The girl had two stitches but was otherwise fine.”
Does this sound like pretty well untouched? Anggi the 30 year old young lady is suffering from a severe skull brain trauma and is at risk of loosing eyesight in one eye. She has cuts and bruises all over. Florian, her 21 year old brother is also suffering from severe skull brain trauma and has cuts and bruises all over. Plus he has partially fractured his wrist (he is a musician and so will be out of business for three months). Both were hustled by having to hurry from one medical specialist to another, having to worry how to get well again.
Jimmy now makes a hero out of himself when in reality he nearly killed two people. He has changed the facts, just the way he wants.
That accident was not a result of any heroic action, but of the most irresponsible set of actions!
Releasing the parachute and so sending two young people into nirvana, just to save his own skin and not getting his boat scratched, is just disgusting!
Best regards,
Anggi Kristianti / Florian Gruber / Anton Gruber