MONROE COUNTY, FL — The family of a woman who was killed in a parasailing accident in the Florida Keys is suing the company that oversaw the deadly outing, according to court documents.
Supraja Alaparthi, her 10-year-old son, and her 9-year-old nephew May 30 were dragged for about a mile in up to 32 mph winds before their parasail struck the Old Seven Mile Bridge near Pigeon Key, the Miami Herald reported, leaving 33-year-old Alaparthi dead and the boys hurt. All three victims were from suburban Chicago, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The lawsuit, filed this week, seeks more than $100,000 from Lighthouse Parasail Inc., claiming negligence and recklessness resulted in the children witnessing Alaparthi’s “lifeless body hanging from the bridge upon impact” and suffering “severe and permanent injuries.”
“It is absolutely tragic that a long-awaited family vacation could end up in such a horrific way,” attorney Michael Haggard, who is representing the family, said in a prepared statement. “The Captain of this boat made countless errors that killed a loving wife and mother of two. Two young boys’ lives were changed forever as well due to this absolute negligence.”
The accident happened after a strong gust of wind controlling the trio’s parasail led the captain of the commercial motorboat to which the parasail was tethered to cut the line, causing the victims to be dragged across the water until they hit the bridge, according to the commission. A good Samaritan took the parasailers aboard his vessel and brought them to a nearby restaurant, where they received care from emergency medical technicians, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Radar and weather reports indicated a storm was coming before the lethal excursion, the lawsuit said, but despite poor conditions, Lighthouse continued with the trip.
“The victims, who were harnessed and attached to the parasail, began to sway violently back and forth and the parasail began to effect the crew’s ability to maneuver the vessel,” the lawsuit said. “Upon losing control of the parasail and the vessel, the crew cut the towline that connected the parasail to the MV Airborne.”
Citing Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, the lawsuit seeks therapy costs for Alaparthi’s family, funeral expenses, and other compensation, including the prospective net accumulation of her estate.
Lighthouse should have had certain weather forecast equipment on board during the outing and kept a weather log, and should not have operated when winds were over 20 mph, according to the lawsuit.
A voicemail seeking comment from Lighthouse was not returned.