Boat captain charged in Florida parasailing accident that killed Elk Grove Village woman

CHICAGO (CBS) – A boat captain is now charged in the death earlier this year of an Elk Grove Village woman who died in a parasailing accident in South Florida.

Daniel Gavin Couch, 49, was jailed in Monroe County, Florida, jail on one count of manslaughter and was being held Thursday on $100,000 bond, the sheriff’s office confirmed to CBS Miami News.

Daniel Sofa
Daniel Couch has been charged with the death of an Illinois woman who died on May 30, 2022 in a fatal parasailing accident in the Florida Keys.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office

As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported Thursday night, the story and the death of Supraja Alaparthi left many shaking their heads in disbelief. Many have wondered why the parasailing boat operator cut the cord.

The image below of Alaparthi; his son, Sriakshith Alaparthi, 10; and his nephew, Vishant Sadda, 9, were taken away just before taking to the air by parasailing off Marathon, Florida.

Supraja Alaparthi, 33, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Haggard Law Firm, Courtesy

The family’s Memorial Day outing to Elk Grove Village ended tragically when a strong gust of wind “tied up” their parasail – meaning the wind took control of the parasail from the boat below.

A later report said it made for a the situation is dangerous that the captain decided to cut the line attached to the victims. They were dropped from an unknown height and dragged through the water by the floating parasail until it finally slammed into the Old Seven Mile Bridge, according to the report.

Alaparthi died instantly. Her son and nephew were both injured.

Now Couch is charged with manslaughter for taking the family on a windy day and cutting the cable connecting the parasail to his boat.

Fisherman John Caillon was on the water that same day when the wind speed reached 30 mph. They saw the parasail explode.

Caillon rushed to the deck to help the three of them as they swayed. But Alaparthi did not survive.

“I like to believe that, you know, he’s got a lot of pride that he carries – knowing that at the end of the day, I think he saved the lives of one, if not two, young children – so I think it outweighs the heartache and sadness,” Caillon’s wife, Kasey Platt, said.

The family’s attorney said 11 family members, including Alaparthi’s 6-year-old daughter, were on the boat that afternoon and saw Couch cut the cord.

Prosecutors said the act was reckless and not only violated parasailing business guidelines, but was criminal.

Lawyers hired by the victims’ family also filed a trial following the accident.