The 2022 Memorial Day weekend saw the vacation of an Illinois family turn deadly after an unexpected parasailing accident.
Supraja Alaparthi, along with her son Sriakshith Alaparthi (10) and her nephew Vishant Sadda (9) had been visiting the Florida Keys when they signed up for a parasailing trip on Monday, May 30th.
According to reports by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), while the three family members were floating up in the air, strong winds caused the parasail to become "pegged". This term is used to refer to a situation where the winds completely fill the sail and strongly begin to pull against the boat, causing the captain to lose control of the sail.
At the time that the parasail became pegged, it's believed the boat was traveling near the Seven-Mile Bridge. It remains unconfirmed at this time, but it is believed that to relieve the situation, the boat captain slackened, untied, or otherwise decreased the tension on the rope that attached the parasail, along with the three family members, to the vessel.
This alleged action would have caused the flyers to drop into the water from whatever height they were floating at. Once in the water, the parasail continued at the behest of the strong winds; this ultimately led the three victims to be dragged through the water and later slammed into the bridge.
John Callion, a local fisherman who happened to be in the area around 5:30 PM that day, noticed the incident and navigated his vessel over to the victims. He and other individuals on his boat were able to extract the three family members from the water and take them to a nearby locale where they could be treated by emergency services as soon as possible.
Tragically, the mother of the family, Alaparthi, was declared deceased at the scene. The younger family members suffered minor injuries. As of this writing, the Coast Guard, as well as the FWC, are conducting an investigation into the accident and whether the actions of the boat's captain were adequate given the unexpected circumstances.
Determining the responsible parties whenever parasailing activities result in injuries or death can be incredibly complex. This is due to the fact that unexpected factors will often play a part in such incidents. Some of these unexpected factors can include a quick change in weather conditions or even mechanical malfunctions in the boat or equipment in use.
Given the extensive list of parasailing injuries and deaths that were occurring in the early 2000s, the Florida State Legislature released a special report in 2014 which gives guidelines for safe parasailing. If these guidelines are violated by parties, namely the operator of the parasailing company or their employees, then the private entity may be held responsible for damages.
This being said, establishing clear responsibility even when such industry standards are violated can make for very complicated legal cases. Taking this into account, it's critical for victims of parasailing accidents or their surviving family members to seek legal counsel that is experienced not only in personal injury but in cases of a similar nature.
Through a civil case, victims of personal injury can pursue financial compensation that considers not only direct damages, such as medical expenses or loss of income, but also more indirect damages such as emotional pain and physical disfigurement.