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

CHICAGO (CBS) – A boat captain is now facing charges in connection with 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 booked into the Monroe County, Florida jail on one count of manslaughter and was being held on $100,000 bail Thursday, the sheriff’s office confirmed to CBS Miami News.

Daniel Couch
Daniel Couch has been charged in the death of an Illinois woman who died on May 30, 2022 during 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 death of Supraja Alaparthi left many shaking their heads in disbelief. Many wondered why the operator of the parasailing boat cut the cord.

The photo below of Alaparthi; her son, Sriaksith Alaparthi, 10; and her nephew, Vishant Sadda, 9, was taken just before she took to the air parasailing off Marathon, Florida.

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

Haggard Law Firm, Courtesy

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

A subsequent report said that this made for a situation so dangerous that the captain decided to cut the line to the victims. They were dropped from an unknown height and dragged through the water by the floating parasail until it eventually crashed into Old Seven Mile Bridge, the report said.

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

Well, Couch is accused of 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 wind speeds reached 30 mph. They watched as the parasail blew out of control.

Caillon rushed to the bridge to help all three as they dangled. But Alaparthi didn’t make it.

“I’d like to believe that, you know, he’s got a lot of pride that he carries — know that ultimately, I think he’s saved one, if not two, young kids’ lives — so I think that outweighs the grief and the sadness,” said Caillon’s wife, Kasey Platt.

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

Prosecutors said that act was reckless, and not only violated commercial parasailing guidelines, but was criminal.

Lawyers hired by family of the victims also filed a lawsuit in the wake of the crash.