A day after a boat captain was arrested and charged in a deadly Memorial Day parasailing crash in the Florida Keys, the victims’ attorneys are speaking out about the incident and what they described as the captain’s reckless actions.
Newly released surveillance video captured 33-year-old Supraja Alaparthi, her 10-year-old son and her 9-year-old nephew at the beginning of the parasailing ride that would end in her death on May 30.
Pedro Echarte with The Haggard Law Firm is one of the attorneys representing the victims. He said the boat’s captain, 49-year-old Daniel Gavin Couch, did not take weather conditions into consideration.
“You don’t put three people — a mother, a son, a nephew — up several hundred feet in the air when that kind of weather is coming in,” said Echarte.
Couch was placed under arrest and booked into the Monroe County Jail on Thursday. He has been charged with manslaughter.
Echarte said this crash was preventable.
“He didn’t check his radar, he didn’t check his weather GPS. He even lied to investigators about checking his cellphone regarding the weather,” he said. “Last time he had checked the weather was several hours before he even got on the boat.”
Attorneys said Couch not only failed to check the weather, but once the passengers were in trouble, he cut the line.
Loved ones, including Alaparthi’s 6-year-old daughter, watched as the strong winds dragged the victims for nearly 2 miles, eventually causing them to slam into the old Seven Mile Bridge.
Alaparthi was killed, and the two boys were injured.
Ricky Patel with the law firm of Farrell & Patel also represents the victims.
“From the moment that the parasail took off, when the parasail hit the water, [the boys] were dragged for two miles out. They were both in the hospital,” he said. “Physically, they’re both getting better day by day. However, psychologically, we’re not sure what it’s going to take for them to be able to get past the trauma and the nightmares and so forth of not just what happened to them, but also the loss of a life while they were all together.”
While the Illinois family continues to grieve and cope with the tragedy, they’ve filed a lawsuit against the boat company to make sure this never happens again.
“Nothing will ever bring her back. Nothing will ever undo what happened that day, but we look forward to holding them accountable on behalf of this family, because that’s what’s right, and that’s what’s just,” said Echarte. “We’re confident that the state authorities will hold Mr. Couch accountable on the criminal end for his actions and what he did that day as well.”
The family’s attorneys said they also plan to sue Couch, the boat’s mate and the marina from where they operated.