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Second lawsuit filed in Florida Keys parasailing death

CBS News Live
CBS News Miami Live

MIAMI - The family of an Illinois woman killed in a 2022 crash while she and two children were parasailing in the Florida Keys filed a second lawsuit connected to her death this week and reflected on the tragic end to a family vacation about a year ago.

Supraja Alaparthi, 33, was killed after being dragged across the water and slamming into a bridge last June while strapped into a parasail. Her husband, Srinivasrao Alaparthi, said Thursday that his family has taken the last year "one day at a time" but misses her dearly.

"I can't help but think that if the people we trusted ... had done their jobs, my wife would still be with us today," he said. "We trusted these companies, but they let us down in the worst possible way."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigated the crash last year and found the boat captain cut the line holding Alaparthi and the two boys because the parasail was "dragging" in high winds from a sudden summer storm.

Her husband, daughter and other horrified family members watched from the boat as they were dragged across the water and struck a bridge, attorneys said Thursday at a news conference in Chicago. It came days after filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the captain, a crew member and a Florida resort company that owns the marina where the boat was based.

"I'm a life-long Florida resident and our state can do better for people that come from out of state to enjoy our waters, our boats, our sun," attorney Pedro Echarte said, calling for more required training and closer transparency and enforcement around existing standards.

Online court records did not list attorneys representing the captain, crew members and resort company named in the suit.

The two boys on the parasail with Alaparthi were both hurt; the lawsuits did not specify their injuries but described them as "severe and permanent." Srinivasrao Alaparthi told reporters that his son and nephew are doing better physically but still dealing with "emotional trauma" tied to the crash.

Attorneys for the family last June filed a separate wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit against the boat company. That case is still pending. An attorney representing the company did not immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday.

According to the family's attorneys, the Alaparthis, their two children and extended family members were visiting the Keys from their home in Elk Grove Village outside Chicago when they booked the parasailing trip. The lawyer said family members told employees they would come back the next day if the weather prevented parasailing but were reassured it would be OK.

The boat captain, Daniel Gavin Couch, was charged by Florida authorities in September with manslaughter in the crash. The Florida public defender's office representing Couch in the criminal case declined Thursday to comment on that case, which is still pending.

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