A wrenching new video shows an out of control parasail pulling a mother and two children along the water in the Florida Keys Monday before they smashed into a bridge, killing the woman and injuring both kids.
Supraja Alaparthi, 33, was parasailing with her young son and nephew on Memorial Day when high winds suddenly kicked up and threatened to drag the boat that was towing them.
Captain Daniel Couch, 49, made the decision to cut the tow line, hoping that he would be able to rescue the visitors from Illinois once the parasail descended.
But the parasail continued to propel forward and dragged the victims at high speed atop the water for nearly two miles before they hit a bridge, according to police and video from WPLG.
Alaparthi died from the impact while her nephew, 9-year-old Vishant Sadda, suffered serious injuries. Her son, 10-year-old Shriakshith Alaparthi, sustained minor wounds.
Couch’s strategy has been questioned by a parasailing expert who said he should not have severed the cable to the harness.
Parasailing trailblazer Mark McCulloh, 66, told the Miami Herald that Couch breached a “golden rule” in cutting the line.
“He should never have done that,” McCulloch said. “That’s the golden rule. Do not cut the line.”
McCulloch said Couch should have tried other maneuvers to combat the gusting winds. Zigzagging the boat, he said, would have slowly deflated the parasail.
McCulloh told Fox 35 that the tragedy was “absolutely” preventable.
“I’ve actually experimented cutting the line in high winds throughout my lifetime in this industry and I found out that that wasn’t a good idea,” he said. “Once you’ve cut the line you’ve lost control of the situation.”
A good Samaritan witnessed the incident from his fishing boat and brought the victims to a nearby restaurant while administering CPR before emergency units took over.
“It was pretty much the worst thing you could imagine,” John Callion told the Herald. “It was real bad.”
Florida officials are continuing to probe the incident.