Boat captain arrested months after fatal parasailing accident in the Keys

Newly obtained video shows family going up on parasail

A boat captain has been arrested, several months after a woman was killed and her son and nephew were injured in a parasailing accident in the Florida Keys, Local 10 News learned on Thursday.

MARATHON, Fla. – A boat captain has been arrested, several months after a woman was killed and her son and nephew were injured in a parasailing accident in the Florida Keys, Local 10 News learned on Thursday.

Local 10 News obtained the arrest warrant for Daniel Gavin Couch, 49, which shows he is charged with one count of manslaughter and five counts of violating commercial parasailing statutes.

Mugshot for Daniel Gavin Couch (Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

Newly obtained video shows the moment the family went up in the parasail.

According to a report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “The captain cut the line tethered to the three victims” on May 30 off the coast of Marathon because the parasail was “pegging.”

That is a phrase used to describe when a parasail turns into a sail in high winds and could potentially drag the boat.

Newly obtained video shows the moments a mother, her son and nephew going up on a parasail in the Florida Keys before a deadly accident.

The woman and two children were dropped and “dragged through the water by the inflated parasail...through and across the surface of the water” before colliding with the Old Seven Mile Bridge, the report states.

According to the report, onboard the 31-foot boat were nine people from Schaumburg, Illinois.

Authorities identified the woman who died as Supraja Alaparthi, 33. Her 10-year-old son, Sriakshith Alaparthi, was also parasailing with her. The 7-year-old boy who was airlifted to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is Alaparthi’s nephew, identified as Vishant Sadat.

FWC officers said Supraja Alaparthi was declared dead by the time a Good Samaritan boat captain arrived to help.

Couch worked for Lighthouse Parasail Inc., which is based in Marathon and had departed from Captain Pip’s Marina & Hideaway that day.

According to the warrant, Couch violated several commercial parasailing statutes.

The weather, specifically the wind speed, was a “key contributing factor” in the accident, the warrant stated. Authorities said Couch did not pay attention to a weather alert that day and had said his VHF radio was not turned on at the time.

Authorities said he claimed he did try calling 911 but his phone wasn’t working.

The victim’s family has filed a lawsuit against the parasail operator.

“There is no excuse for the negligence and disregard for public safety that was shown in this case,” FWC Regional Commander Major Alberto Maza said in a statement released by the agency. “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.”

Read the arrest warrant


About the Authors:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.