On Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) arrested Daniel Gavin Couch, 49, of Marathon on a warrant for one charge of manslaughter and five counts of violation of commercial parasailing statutes. These charges are in relation to the fatal May 30 parasailing crash which resulted in the death of Supraja Alaparthi, 33, and injuries sustained by her son Sriakshith Alaparthi,10, and friend Vishant Sadda, 9, all of Schaumburg, IL.
The FWC investigation into the incident showed that Couch departed from a Marathon marina on May 30 with one crew member and 12 occupants and had not recently checked weather conditions or followed established parasailing regulations. The three victims were the second group of passengers put into a parasail flight. Strong winds from impending weather prevented the boat’s winch from bringing the victim’s back to the boat and Couch cut the line attached to the parachute of the three passengers. Ms. Alaparthi and the two children dropped from an unknown height and were pulled through the water by the inflated parasail until they ultimately collided with a concrete pillar at Old Seven Mile Bridge.
Following the impact, the parasail stayed draped over the bridge. Couch did not maneuver his vessel under the bridge to offer aid. Good Samaritans John Callion, Eldon Bell and Linda Bell witnessed the crash and provided aid to the victims.
Supraja Alaparthi was pronounced dead at the scene. Vishant Sadda and Sriakshith Alaparthi were transported to area hospitals with injuries.
“There is no excuse for the negligence and disregard for public safety that was shown in this case,” said South Bravo Regional Commander Major Alberto Maza. “My prayers go out to the families of those involved in this terrible accident. Our investigators conducted a thorough investigation, and the charges today hold those responsible for this tragedy accountable.”