Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Nine Deaths, Many Lawsuits
An Aug. 5, 2008 crash of a Carson Helicopters S-61N killed nine firefighters. Four of 13 aboard survived. Now, a California woman has joined the relatives of those that died in another way; she is suing Carson (and its parent United Technologies Corp), engine maker GE and a maintenance company, Columbia Helicopters, for $8 million dollars. Verna Wilson lost her son Shawn Blazer in the crash. The suit alleges that the helicopter's clutches and other components were defective and companies and operators were negligent. Following is an excerpt from the NTSB's accident file: The helicopter had been assigned to transport approximately 50 wildland firefighter helitack crewmembers out of the Trinity Alps Wilderness of the Shasta Trinity National Forest due to forecasted worsening weather conditions. The helicopter had completed two trips, and had gone to Trinity Helibase to refuel. After it had refueled, it returned to H-44 for its third load of passengers. During departure, the helicopter impacted trees and subsequently terrain, coming to rest on its left side. A post crash fire consumed the aircraft. The NTSB has yet to release probable cause.