A Florida Keys boat captain was arrested on Thursday for manslaughter in connection with a fatal parasailing trip this year, officials said.
A warrant for his arrest accused the captain, Daniel Gavin Couch, 49, of failing to check the weather before the May 30 trip and then cutting the tow line of his passengers’ parasail in strong winds.
Supraja Alaparthi, 33, died and her 10-year-old son and 9-year-old nephew were injured. They were from Illinois.
Couch was arrested Thursday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on a warrant for one count of manslaughter and five counts of violating commercial parasailing laws, the commission said.
“There is no excuse for the negligence and disregard for public safety that has been demonstrated in this case,” said FWC Maj. Alberto Maza, regional commander of the United Nations Law Enforcement Division. agency.
Couch was being held in lieu of $100,000 bond Thursday night, according to jail records online.
It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf or if he had been formally charged.
The FWC said Couch had not recently checked weather conditions before taking 12 passengers on the May 30 parasailing trip.
While Alaparthi and the children were in the air, high winds prevented them from being winched to the boat, and Couch severed the towline, the commission said.
They fell and were dragged through the water by the parasail before hitting a pillar on the Old Seven Mile Bridge, the arrest warrant says.
The parasail was draped over the deck, with Alaparthi, who was submerged, and the two children hanging in their harnesses, according to the warrant. Good Samaritans came to their aid and cut them off from the harness.
Couch drove to the area “but made no attempt to approach the victims or provide further assistance,” although others went to help, an FWC investigator wrote in a case statement. likely by applying for the arrest warrant.
An attorney for Alaparthi’s family, Ricky Patel, told NBC Miami on Thursday that the family was grateful for the support provided after the incident.
“It means a lot to them. They hope that with this milestone today we can take another step to make sure this doesn’t happen to any families again,” Patel told the station.
Couch had sounded a horn to signal passengers to pull a strap to activate a “chute wrangler,” which would stop and deflate a loose parasail, but it did not deploy, according to the warrant.
A crew member tried to use a gaff to grab the parasail, but the hook was torn from his hands. He then went into the water to try to free the wrangler parachute, but he was unable, according to the warrant.
Couch tried to grab the parachute with his hands but was unable, and the group continued to be dragged along, the warrant says.
The parachute was installed incorrectly, upside down, and it is unclear whether it would have functioned as intended, the FWC investigator wrote.
The FWC investigator wrote in the warrant that Couch had been negligent in not monitoring the weather and allowing them to continue flying even as conditions deteriorated. Cutting the towline was called a ‘gross and blatant move’ that cut off the group’s only safe way of return.