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Home LATEST NEWS Florida Boat Captain Charged in Fatal Parasailing Accident

Florida Boat Captain Charged in Fatal Parasailing Accident

MARATHON, Florida. — A boat captain has been charged with manslaughter in a Memorial Day parasailing accident in the Florida Keys that killed a 33-year-old Illinois woman and injured her young son and nephew.

Daniel Gavin Couch, 49, was booked into the Monroe County Jail on Thursday and was being held on $100,000 bond.

An investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found that Couch cut the line restraining Supraja Alaparthi and the two children because the parachute was “dragged” by high winds from a sudden summer storm.

They were still attached to the parachute as they were carried by the waves for almost 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) before crashing into the old Seven Mile Bridge, the investigation found.

Family members, including Alaparthi’s 6-year-old daughter, were on the boat that afternoon. They were visiting the Keys from Elk Grove Village, Illinois, and told the captain they could come back the next day if the weather was too bad to parachute up. But the captain said he would be fine, the family’s attorney, Michael Haggard, said when he filed a wrongful death lawsuit in June.

After the parachute hit the bridge, Alparthi was underwater. His 10-year-old son was hanging upright and his 9-year-old nephew was leaning back with his head underwater, according to the report.

“The captain did not maneuver his boat under the bridge to offer help despite family members in the parachute boat later reporting that they were begging him to help them,” the arrest warrant said.

The captain of a nearby boat brought the victims to shore.

“Weather data, images, and video collected throughout the investigation show ominous-looking black clouds and areas of high winds in the vicinity of the incident,” the arrest warrant says.

Investigators also found that Couch’s decision to cut the tow line was “rude and blatant” and he should have considered other possible options for safely unloading passengers.

An attorney who could speak for Couch was not listed in jail records.

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