- The Washington Times - Friday, September 23, 2022

A Florida boat captain has been arrested on charges of manslaughter for a parasailing crash that killed an Illinois woman on Memorial Day.

Daniel Gavin Couch was arrested Thursday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and is accused of failing to check the weather before taking Supraja Alaparthi and her family on a parasailing excursion in the Florida Keys.

Two boys, Ms. Alaparthi’s son and nephew, were injured in the crash when the parasailing rig they were in struck a bridge.

Upon seeing black clouds and feeling strong winds, the family party of twelve told Mr. Couch they were fine returning the next day for a chance of better weather. Mr. Couch is accused of telling them things would be fine and sailing anyway, The Associated Press reported.

The arrest warrant also mentions video taken by the family of Mr. Couch remarking on the worsening conditions, including white caps on the waves and large clouds, to a crew member shortly after launching the parasail.

He failed to have his radio working, which would have advised him of weather reports. He failed to check the GPS. That also would have shown the incoming weather. He lied to investigators about using his cellphone to check the weather throughout the day,” one of the Alaparthi family’s attorneys, Pedro Echarte, told WTVJ-TV, a Miami NBC affiliate.

Authorities also allege that Mr. Couch, once wind filled up the parasail to the point that it could not be reeled back in, cut the tow line for the parasail so that the boat would not be dragged around.

Alaparthi and the two boys fell into the water, still strapped into the parasailing rig, and were dragged in the water by the boat for two miles until striking the old Seven Mile Bridge.

“The captain did not maneuver his vessel under the bridge to offer aid even though the family members on the parasail vessel later reported they were begging him to help,” the arrest warrant reads, according to the AP.

A Good Samaritan captain of a small boat came to the aid of the three victims, cutting them free of the harness while two boat passengers performed CPR on Ms. Alaparthi and her nephew, according to the Miami Herald.

The three were brought to medical facilities; Alaparthi was pronounced dead at the scene.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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