Co-workers mourn victim of parasailing fall


POSTED: Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Hawaii Kai water sports company canceled all of its activity tours yesterday to allow employees to mourn the death of a co-worker in a parasailing accident, general manager Kathy Takahashi said.

“;We are all really close,”; Takahashi said. “;We loved him. He was a great kid, full of life.”;

Cole Ciliax, 24, fell about 40 feet into the ocean Tuesday afternoon after he apparently removed himself from his harness and attempted to use the parasailing rope like a zipline to slide down to the boat, Takahashi said.

Ciliax was holding on to a short piece of rope and the rope might have broken or he lost his grip, she said.

The Coast Guard is investigating the incident and interviewed witnesses on the boat and the captain, said spokesman Lt. John Titchen. The captain was also given a drug and alcohol test, which is standard procedure, Titchen said.

The investigation, which could take anywhere from several weeks to more than a year, will determine what happened and ways to prevent further accidents, he said. The company, SeaBreeze Watersports, could also face civil penalties if violations are found.

The company has a clean record with the Coast Guard, Titchen added.

SeaBreeze Watersports has been in business since 1986 and is the largest water sports company in Hawaii, according to its Web site. It offers parasailing, Jet Skiing, scuba diving, banana boat rides, speed sailing and surfing.

The company has never had a serious accident before, Takahashi said.

SeaBreeze has about a dozen employees, who are like a family, she said.

Workers went out on two boats Tuesday night and dropped flower leis and held a prayer service at the spot where Ciliax died.

Ciliax came here from Las Vegas two years ago because he loved the ocean and Hawaii, Takahashi said.

She said even though he worked on the ocean, Ciliax asked if he could work one fewer day a week, so he could spend more time in the water—surfing and diving.