Florida Keys Boat Captain Facing Manslaughter Charge in May Parasailing Death – NBC 6 South Florida

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A Florida Keys boat captain is facing a manslaughter charge in connection with a May parasailing incident that left a woman dead.

Daniel Gavin Couch, 49, was booked into jail Thursday, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office officials said.


Monroe County Sheriff’s Office

Daniel Gavin Couch

The victim, 33-year-old Supraja Alaparthi, was parasailing with her 10-year-old son and 9-year-old nephew back on May 30 when the winds picked up and slammed them into the old Seven Mile Bridge west of Marathon, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said.

With the parasail pegged, the captain cut the line tethered to the three victims, an FWC report said. They were dropped from an unknown height and were dragged through the surface of the water until the parasail collided with the bridge.

An arrest warrant released Thursday said Couch and a crew member had tried to bring Alaparthi and the two kids down with the winch but couldn’t due to the strong winds.

The warrant said after the impact, the parasail was draped over the top of the bridge with all three hanging from bridge and Alaparthi submerged in the water.

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

A good Samaritan in another boat responded and was the first to give assistance, cutting all three from their harnesses and placing them on their boat, the warrant said.

The warrant said weather and wind speed were contributing factors in the incident.

“Weather data, pictures, and videos gathered throughout the investigation show black, ominous looking clouds and areas of high winds in the vicinity of the incident,” the warrant said.

The warrant said video footage taken by Alaparthi before the incident showed Couch was aware of the adverse weather conditions, when he remarked that the waves were white capping and the clouds were too big.

Couch failed to “use any available means to determine the prevailing and forecasted weather conditions,” the warrant said. “Daniel Couch had an utter disregard for the care of his passengers who entrusted him with their lives by allowing them to fly after he verbally acknowledges to his crew member within one minute of flight that the weather was quickly deteriorating.”

The warrant also said Couch’s decision to cut the tow line was “gross and flagrant” and he should have taken into account other possible options.

In June, the family of Alaparthi filed a wrongful death lawsuit on her behalf against the parasailing company.

Attorneys with the Haggard law firm in Coral Gables, which is representing the family, released photos that were taken by the family and that they claim show unsafe weather conditions right after the family went into the air.

The suit claims the company was negligent for failing to check the weather and for operating in unsafe weather conditions.

Florida Keys Boat Captain Facing Manslaughter Charge in May Parasailing Death – NBC 6 South Florida

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