Boat captain charged in fatal parasailing trip off Florida Keys

Boat captain charged in fatal parasailing trip off Florida Keys

A Florida Keys boat captain has been arrested on involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with the death of a paraglider illinois woman back in May. Two children, including the woman’s son, were also injured in the incident.

Authorities arrested Daniel Gavin Couch, 49, Thursday on felony manslaughter in the death of 33-year-old Supraja Alaparthi and five misdemeanor counts of violating commercial parasailing statutes, Parasailing Conservation Commission Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) said in a news release on Thursday.

FWC South Bravo regional commander Maj. Alberto Maza said Couch showed “negligence and disregard for public safety” when he took a group of 12 people, including Alaparthi, his 10-year-old son Sriakshith Alaparthi and his friend from 9 years. Vishant Sadda, on the ship on May 30.

A cell phone image taken just before a parasailing accident in the Florida Keys on May 30, 2022, which claimed the life of a woman and injured two children.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Couch did not check weather conditions before leaving Marathon Marina or follow parasailing regulations, according to the FWC.

The three victims, all from Schaumburg, Illinois, were the second group of passengers to parasail that day. However, high winds prevented the boat’s winch from bringing them back to the boat. Couch then cut the parachute line, dropping Supraja and the two children from an unknown height, the FWC said.

According to the arrest warrant, Couch and his crewman attempted to catch and deflate the detached parachute, but were unable to secure the parachute. After failed attempts to deflate their parachutes, the three victims were swept away by the water before colliding with a concrete pillar on the Old Seven Mile Bridge, the FWC said.

As the glider was dangling over the bridge, the boat’s captain did not offer help, even when family members on the boat begged him to help, the FWC said. Instead, a group of three people on another boat who witnessed the incident came to the aid of the victims.

The Three Good Samaritans cut the three victims from their harnesses and placed them in their boat, according to the arrest warrant. They then performed CPR on Supraja Alaparthi and Sadda while they were being transported to a nearby restaurant.

However, Supraja Alaparthi was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the arrest warrant. Sadda was airlifted to a Miami hospital. Supraja’s son, Sriakshith, was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.

Maza said there was “no excuse” for Couch’s actions that day.

“My prayers are with the families of those involved in this terrible accident,” Maza said in a statement. “Our investigators conducted a thorough investigation, and today’s charges hold those responsible for this tragedy accountable.”

A judge set Couch’s bail at $100,000.

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