Parasail operator charged with manslaughter in Elk Grove woman's death in Florida Keys

  • Daniel Gavin Couch

    Daniel Gavin Couch

  • Elk Grove Village resident Supraja Alaparthi, center, prepares to go parasailing with her son, left, and nephew on Memorial Day, just before an accident that would claim her life and injure the two boys.

    Elk Grove Village resident Supraja Alaparthi, center, prepares to go parasailing with her son, left, and nephew on Memorial Day, just before an accident that would claim her life and injure the two boys. Courtesy of the Haggard Law Firm

 
 
Updated 9/22/2022 6:58 PM

Prosecutors have charged a Marathon, Florida, boat captain with manslaughter in connection with the May 30 parasailing death of an Elk Grove Village woman in the Florida Keys.

Daniel Gavin Couch, 49, is charged with the second-degree felony as well as a violation of commercial parasailing rules, said Joseph Mansfield, chief assistant of the Monroe County state attorney's office.

 

Supraja Alaparthi, 33, of Elk Grove Village was pronounced dead at the scene May 30 after the parasail she was riding struck the Old Seven Mile Bridge near Pigeon Key during a bout of bad weather and heavy winds.

Also injured were her 10-year-old son, Shriakshith Alaparthi, and 9-year-old nephew, Vishant Sadda, the latter of whom spent a week in the hospital, family attorney Michael Haggard said in late June.

Couch was issued a $100,000 bond but remained in custody Thursday, Mansfield said.

Couch's charge for violating commercial parasailing rules included his operating a business without the proper equipment, such as a high-frequency marine radio, and not using all available means to determine prevailing and forecast weather conditions, Mansfield added.

Alaparthi's family filed a wrongful-death and personal injury lawsuit in June against the parasail operator, Lighthouse Parasail Inc.

Haggard and his co-counsel, Pedro Echarte, said during a news conference in Florida that the parasailing company took Alaparthi and the two boys out that day despite dangerous conditions.

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"The weather was horrific," Haggard said. "It was absolute negligence and a violation of a statute in the state of Florida to put those three innocent souls multiple hundreds of feet in the air on this day."

They allege the captain of the boat immediately lost control of the vessel and parasail when the three family members went up.

The attorneys allege the captain then cut the parasail free in an effort to regain control of the boat -- something Echarte said should have been the last course of action -- and skipped over a number of options that could have and should have been employed first.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $30,000, but Haggard said he believes that a greater amount in punitive damages is likely when all the evidence is gathered.

Mansfield said the filing of criminal charges has seemed likely for a while, but completion of the investigation awaited several factors, including toxicology reports.

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