Florida boat captain charged in fatal Keys parasailing accident


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MARATHON, Fla. — 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.

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

An investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found that Couch cut the line holding Supraja Alaparthi and the two boys because the parasail was “dragging” in the high winds of a sudden summer storm.

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They were still attached to the parasailer as they were dragged through waves nearly 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) before crashing into the old Seven Mile Bridge, the inquest 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 parasail. But the captain said everything would be fine, family attorney Michael Haggard said when he filed a wrongful death lawsuit in June.

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After the parasail touched the deck, Alparthi was underwater. Her 10-year-old son was suspended and her 9-year-old nephew was leaning back with his head underwater, according to the report.

“The captain did not maneuver his vessel below deck to offer assistance even though family members aboard the parasail later reported pleading with him for help,” the warrant reads. ‘stop.

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The captain of a nearby boat brought the victims ashore.

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

Investigators also found that Couch’s decision to cut the towline was “crude and blatant” and that he should have considered other possible options to get the passengers off safely.

An attorney who could speak on Couch’s behalf was not listed in prison records.

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