TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A boat captain accused of cutting the line to a group of parasailers was arrested months after an accident left a mother dead and two children injured in the Florida Keys.
According to WPLG, 49-year-old Daniel Couch was charged with one count of manslaughter and five counts of violating commercial parasailing statutes.
A report filed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stated on May 30, “The captain cut the line tethered to the three victims” because the parasail was “pegging,” an industry term used to describe when a parasail chute becomes controlled by the wind instead of the boat pulling it.
At the time, the National Weather Service said wind gusts in the area reached up to 32 mph as a cluster of scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms pushed off the mainland.
The report said weather, specifically wind speed, played a “key contributing factor” in the accident.
“All of the sudden, the temperature dropped by 10 degrees and the wind started blowing like crazy,” said John Callion, a charter fishing guide and good Samaritan who witnessed the incident.
Callion told news outlets he watched the cable snap and the family drop into the water before they were dragged approximately one mile across the surface and into the Old Seven Mile Bridge.
The mother, later identified as Supraja Alaparthi, 33, was killed in the accident. Her son, Sriakshith Alaparthi, 10, and nephew, Vishant Sadda, 9 were injured. According to the Associated Press, the woman’s 6-year-old daughter watched the crash from the boat along with 10 other family members.
Days after the incident, attorneys claimed the boat company was negligent in taking the family out as a storm approached. According to reports, Couch violated several commercial parasailing statutes.