Supraja Alaparthi’s family may have a case against any company or person found responsible for the tragic parasailing incident on Memorial Day in the Florida Keys that killed her and injured her young son and nephew.
The 33-year-old mother from Schaumburg, Illinois, was killed after a sudden storm prompted a boat captain to cut loose the parasail. The inflated parasail then dragged the family across the ocean and slammed them into Old Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The boat captain, Daniel Couch, 49, who works for Lighthouse Parasail Inc., which is based in Marathon, cut a line tethered from the 31-foot boat to the parasail because it was dragging the boat, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Couch could face criminal charges, according to news reports.
Mark McCulloh, a parasailing safety consultant from Maitland, Florida, told the Associated Press that boat captains should never cut the cord when people are in the air.
“No, no, no. That’s not even in the cards,” McCulloh said. He noted that, generally speaking, a captain is giving up control by cutting the line.
“You run a huge risk because it’s windy. When the parasail lands in the water, it doesn’t stop moving,” he said. Turning the boat from side to side is considered a better way to lessen the tug on the line.
A nearby boater, John Callion, witnessed the incident around Pigeon Key and tried to rescue Supraja Alaparthi and the boys, pulling them into his boat and taking them to waiting paramedics, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a news release.
Callion told the Miami Herald that the storm developed suddenly, “It was pretty much flat calm, but you could see the storm coming. All of the sudden, the temperature dropped by 10 degrees and the wind started blowing like crazy.”
Supraja Alparthi was pronounced dead at the scene. Her son Sriakshith Alaparthi, 10, and nephew Vishant Sadda, 9, were both injured.
The Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife are continuing to investigate.
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