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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.