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

Boat captain charged in Florida parasailing accident that killed northwest suburban woman
Boat captain charged in Florida parasailing accident that killed northwest suburban woman 02:08

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A boat captain now stands charged in connection with the death earlier this year of a 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 Thursday on $100,000 bond, 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 mishap 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 questioned why the operator of the parasailing boat cut the cord.

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

Supraja Alaparthi, 33, was pronounced dead on the scene. Haggard Law Firm, Courtesy

The Memorial Day outing for the Elk Grove Village family ended tragically when a strong gust of wind "pegged" their parasail - meaning the wind took over control of the parasail from the boat below.

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

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

Now, Couch is charged with manslaughter for taking the family out on a windy day and cutting that cable connecting the parasail to his boat.

Fisherman John Caillon was out on the water that same day when the 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 did not make it.

"I like to believe that, you know, he's got a lot of pride that he's carrying - knowing that ultimately, I think he saved one, if not two, young children's lives - so I think that outweighs the sorrow 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.

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

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