Captain loses license for 1 year
The skipper of a parasail vessel that was involved in a 2009 fatal accident in Maunalua Bay, off Hawai'i Kai, turned in his Merchant Mariner's license last week and will undergo a one-year suspension, the U.S. Coast Guard has announced.
Captain Scott Ng signed a settlement agreement with the Coast Guard that requires him to undergo the 12-month suspension followed by 24 months of probation for what the Coast Guard concluded was his failure to ensure the safety of his crew member and passengers.
Ng and deckhand Cole Ciliax, 24, were under way on April 28, 2009, with passengers on a SeaBreeze Watersports parasail boat and were near the end of the excursion when Ciliax tried an improvised zip-line ride down the parasail towline.
He fell and was killed.
Coast Guard investigators found that Ciliax traveled about 5 feet down the line before the rope broke and he fell more than 40 feet to the water below.
His body was not recovered until about 20 minutes later, Coast Guard officials said. No passengers were injured and no action was taken against SeaBreeze Watersports.
Coast Guard officials said Ng admitted to the allegations against him in two charges of misconduct: allowing Ciliax to zip-line down the parasail's towline and failing to ensure that his Ciliax used proper parasailing safety equipment, including a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
SeaBreeze owner Jeff Krantz said Ciliax's death was a "terribly unfortunate accident" and that blaming Ng for Ciliax's death and suspending Ng's license "may be overly harsh."
Ng's responsibilities on the day of the accident were to safely launch Ciliax on a parasail ride and to safely retrieve him when the ride was coming to an end, Krantz said.
Ciliax decided on his own to attempt the zip-line maneuver and would likely have taken "self responsibility" for the incident had he not been killed in the fall, Krantz said.
"It was a very unfortunate thing, but I understand the Coast Guard has to do its job," Krantz said. "Our small family (of employees) is still very hurt by this and the wounds run very deep. I don't think this action against Scott (Ng) was necessarily the right action to take."
Ng has continued to work for SeaBreeze.
"If I felt he made a mistake and caused someone else's death, he would have been fired," Krantz said.
Capt. Barry Compagnoni, the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port of Honolulu, said the case involved "poor judgment and risky behavior" and should serve as a "wake-up call to all mariners."
"It is our hope that an incident like this never happens again," Compagnoni said in a news release.