By Gwendolyn Craig
The Lake George Park Commission fined a parasailing company earlier this year for violations related to a near-drowning of a customer last summer and breaching a 2016 order of consent, according to state documents.
The company’s violations led to the Commission updating its permit regulations last month for parasailing companies on Lake George.
The Commission found that Pinky’s Parasailing Adventures, also known as Lake George Parasailing Adventures, had six violations to its operating permit, including a lack of a dedicated spotter for customers in the air, failure to monitor the weather and operating during unsafe wind speeds. But the company has been in trouble with Commissioners before, and fines previously suspended to ensure compliance were reinstated with the new violations.
The Commission fined the company $4,000—$1,000 directly from last summer’s incident and $3,000 from a suspended penalty for prior violations.
The parasailing company, owned by JDQ Enterprises, did not return three calls or an email requesting comment. A staff member did answer the phone during one of the calls, but said he could not speak on the matter. Commission records obtained by Adirondack Explorer through state Freedom of Information Law requests show the company owners, Dennis Quirk and James Quirk Jr., denied most of the violations, though they waived a right to a hearing and paid the fines.
The latest enforcement case dates back to June 15, 2019, when then 23-year-old Adrian Robles was flying over Lake George attached to a parasail. A wind gust dropped him into the lake and he got caught in the parasail’s rigging. By the time he was pulled from the water, he was unconscious and not breathing. The New Windsor man did eventually recover.
In July, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office ticketed the boat’s captain, Kate Leary of Lake George, for a lack of a spotter on the boat. By the end of July, the Commission opened an enforcement case under Environmental Conservation Law.
Records show the commission found that Lake George Parasailing Adventures was operating two vessels without proper registration; “failed to have an observer maintain visual contact with the parasail at all times while the parasail was in the air;” had booth attendants on shore who “were not tasked with and failed to monitor the local weather;” “operated a vessel in wind exceeding 20 mph;” “failed to file proof of bond or insurance policy with commission;” and failed to notify the commission about a facility it was using to conduct business.
The Commission reprimanded the business in 2016 for seven violations in 2015, another order of consent shows. Those violations included “failing to report an accident with parasail passengers within 48 hours;” “operating dangerously close to a sailboat;” “operating in the area of the Power Boat Regatta and ignoring the directions of Commission’s Marine Patrol Officers;” “exceeding the 5 mph speed limit in the Lake George Village zone;” two instances of “flying too close to the shore;” and operating outside the area outlined in the parasail company’s permit.
Some of the fines commissioners issued for those 2015 violations were suspended, as long as Lake George Parasailing Adventures did not have any more violations within the next three years. The June 2019 near-drowning, however, was within that timeframe and the fines were brought back.
The latest enforcement case, ordered and signed on March 4, precipitated the Commission to update its parasailing rules and regulations on Lake George. The rules made clarifications to operators’ permits regarding wind speed, weather monitoring and parasailing staff requirements and were passed unanimously in May.
There is one other parasailing business called Parasail Joe’s on the lake, and it, too, will be required to operate under the latest rules.