43-year old James Holloway, Jr., was arrested and booked into the a Florida jail Sunday night on charges of battery, aggravated battery and grand theft. Investigators say Holloway, who owns "Panama City Parasail," took some parasailers out on his boat Sunday evening off the coast of Panama City Beach.
Fish and Wildlife Conservation officials say a boat owned by "Aquatic Adventures" also had parasailers in the air, and allegedly crossed in front of Holloway's vessel, tangling the lines.
Holloway allegedly cut the rope, sending some parasailers into the water. Investigators say after a short chase, Holloway boarded the other boat, and started a fight with that boat's captain, Josh Ackerman. Holloway punched and kicked Ackerman, who eventually jumped overboard. Holloway drove Ackerman's boat away, leaving him stranded in the water. Coast Guard and FWC officers responded, arresting Holloway.
But, fellow parasail operators are defending some of his actions. They say he may have saved lives by cutting the ropes free. Capt. David Brown, with Coastal Parasail, says, "If he's got four to six passengers on his boat, they're all in danger of being hurt or killed. So Jimbo Holloway saved the day." Asked if that condones his behavior, Brown says, "Probably not. But, what are you going to do?"
Stan Kirkland of the Florida Wildlife Commission says, "As a general rule, you have to stay well clear of one another. You can't cut in front of one another, because obviously there's a danger to people on a vessel and there's a danger to people in the air."
Brown says these sorts of accidents are extremely rare, and he believes the parasail industry does not need to be regulated. The incident is still under investigation and Holloway could face more charges.