Lawsuits Are Filed over Fatal Life-Flight Helicopter Crash in North Carolina
It is now more than three months since a Life-Flight helicopter crash in North Carolina that killed four people. However, the tragic crash is in the news again following the filing of a lawsuit that claims it was preventable.
Eight months before the crash near Hertford in North Carolina, the same model of helicopter suffered a similar engine problem in South Dakota that resulted in the fatal crash, the Virginian-Pilot reported.
The families of a patient who died in the life-flight helicopter crash in North Carolina and one of the flight nurses have filed a lawsuit.
The manufacturers of the helicopter as well as its engines and the estate of the pilot who died in the crash are named in the lawsuit. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
The National Transportation Safety Board is working with Airbus Helicopters to establish the cause of the fatal crash.
The lawsuits have been filed by the estate of patient Mary Bartlett of Elizabeth City and flight nurse Kristopher Harrison. They were killed in the crash on Sept. 8 along with pilot Jeffrey Burke and flight nurse Crystal Sollinger.
The twin-engine 2011 Eurocopter model MBB-BK117 C-2 was being operated by Air Methods at “Duke Life Flight.”
The lawsuits alluded to the statements of witnesses who saw smoke coming from the back of the chopper before it crashed in the field. The NTSB’s initial report alluded to signs of overheating and a lack of lubrication in the helicopter’s rear turbine shaft.
Gary Robb, a lawyer from Kansas City, Missouri, argued the crash was preventable. He said a pilot made an emergency landing in South Dakota in January when a similar problem was encountered.
Nobody died in that helicopter. However, it points to a potential defect with the MBB-BK117 C-2. Robb stated the Federal Aviation Administration issued a “Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin” in November for the helicopter in question.
Was the Life-Flight Helicopter Crash in North Carolina Preventable?
The bulletin warning suggested a blocked drain may present a fire risk or a risk of engine shutdown in certain circumstances. The bulletin recommended helicopter owners or operators carry out additional inspections. These inspections are not mandatory. However, Robb is arguing the bulletin is significant and the crash was preventable.
The helicopter left Sentara Albemarle Medical Center in Elizabeth City and was heading to Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C.
The lawsuits are also critical of the pilot. They claim Burke failed to perform emergency procedures when faced with the failure of the engines. Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue an “autorotation landing” would have brought the helicopter safely down.
Additionally, the litigation accused Air Methods of a failure to properly maintain the helicopter, the Virginian-Pilot reported.
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