Family of woman killed in parasailing crash in the Florida Keys sues operator

·3 min read

The family of a woman who died last month while parasailing in the Florida Keys filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the parasail boat’s operator.

The wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit was filed by The Haggard Law Firm on behalf of the estate of Supraja Alaparthi, her son and nephew against Lighthouse Parasail Inc. in Monroe County Circuit Court. Lighthouse Parasail is based in Marathon and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Ravikumar Sadda and Asritha Ravala, the nephew’s parents, are also plaintiffs in the suit.

The lawsuit centers on the Memorial Day tragedy in which Alaparthi, 33, of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, died after the boat captain, Daniel Couch, cut the parasailing cable tethering Alaparthi, her 10-year-old son and her 9-year-old nephew to the vessel, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s preliminary report. They were dragged across the water before crashing into a bridge, according to authorities.

Couch cut the line after the parasail “pegged,” meaning it filled with so much air from a strong wind gust that he feared it would drag the boat, reports said. Alaparthi was dead by the time another “good Samaritan” boat captain delivered her and the children to a restaurant in the Middle Keys city of Marathon, according to authorities.

Supraja Alaparthi, center, died in a parasailing tragedy after a boat captain cut the parasailing cable tethering her to a vessel off the Florida Keys on May 30, 2022, according to authorities. Sriakshith Alaparthi, her 10-year-old son, left, and Vishant Sadda, her 9-year-old nephew, right, were also hurt but survived.
Supraja Alaparthi, center, died in a parasailing tragedy after a boat captain cut the parasailing cable tethering her to a vessel off the Florida Keys on May 30, 2022, according to authorities. Sriakshith Alaparthi, her 10-year-old son, left, and Vishant Sadda, her 9-year-old nephew, right, were also hurt but survived.

The lawsuit amount is up to a Monroe County jury, but “there is no amount that can compensate a family for this tremendous loss,” the family’s attorney, Michael Haggard, said Tuesday.

Steven J. Mitchel, the attorney representing the parasail company, couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.

The events and aftermath

Twelve family members on the 31-foot boat watched in terror as their loved ones dropped from a significant height and were dragged by strong winds along the water before slamming into the Old Seven Mile Bridge near Pigeon Key, Haggard told the Miami Herald in an email.

READ MORE: Captain cut parasailing cable before mom and kids slammed into Keys bridge, police say

After the accident, Vishant Sadda, Alaparthi’s nephew, was treated for traumatic injuries to his eyes, face and other parts of his body at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital near South Miami. He is back in Illinois and will need further plastic surgery and general surgery due to his facial and orbital injuries, Haggard told the Herald.

The lawsuit filed by the The Haggard Law Firm on Tuesday claims that Lighthouse Parasail Inc. operated its parasail boat in unsafe weather conditions off the Florida Keys on May 30, 2022.  Supraja Alaparthi, died after the boat captain cut the parasailing cable tethering her to the vessel, according to authorities. Sriakshith Alaparthi, her 10-year-old son, and Vishant Sadda, her 9-year-old nephew, were also hurt but survived.
The lawsuit filed by the The Haggard Law Firm on Tuesday claims that Lighthouse Parasail Inc. operated its parasail boat in unsafe weather conditions off the Florida Keys on May 30, 2022. Supraja Alaparthi, died after the boat captain cut the parasailing cable tethering her to the vessel, according to authorities. Sriakshith Alaparthi, her 10-year-old son, and Vishant Sadda, her 9-year-old nephew, were also hurt but survived.

Sriakshith Alaparthi, Alaparthi’s son, suffered minor injuries but is in ongoing therapy, Haggard said. He is still in shock and will likely suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, Haggard added.

READ MORE: Will Keys boat captain face charges in parasail tragedy at bridge? ‘It’s possible’

Alaparthi’s 6-year-old daughter saw the tragedy, Haggard said. “The fact the entire family witnessed this event is just an overriding trauma affecting everyone,” he said.

Alaparthi is survived by her husband Srinivasro Alaparthi, her son and daughter.

What the suit alleges

The lawsuit claims that Lighthouse Parasail is responsible for the “acts and omissions” of Couch and his mate, Tanner Helmers, according to a copy of the suit provided by the law firm.

Three people hang from a parasail off the old Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys Monday, May 30, 2022, minutes before a high wind gust prompted the captain of the boat towing them to cut them loose.
Three people hang from a parasail off the old Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys Monday, May 30, 2022, minutes before a high wind gust prompted the captain of the boat towing them to cut them loose.

Among the lawsuit’s other allegations: The company failed to properly train Couch and Helmers, that it fell short in reasonably equipping the boat with the proper safety and parasailing equipment, and that it operated the vessel in unsafe weather conditions.

READ MORE: Is parasailing regulated in Florida? The popular water sport has led to tragedy before

The plaintiffs also allege that weather reports indicated a storm would be entering the area on May 30 and that weather conditions began to quickly deteriorate but that despite this, the parasailing company continued with the planned voyage, the plaintiffs argue. Three family members completed the first parasail ride without problems, and the tragedy ensued shortly after, the suit says.

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