Articles Posted in Aviation Accidents

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The commander of an Asiana jet, which crashed in July failed to respond to as many as four separate verbal warnings from a co-pilot that the jet was making its descent too quickly, The Wall Street Journal reports. A public hearing conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also provided other examples of missed signals, inadequate crew communication and confusion about automated thrust settings in the cockpit before the accident as the plane attempted to land at San Francisco International Airport. The jet, which had no mechanical problems, flew dangerous slow and low with the airport clearly in view before it crashed into a seawall. The crash killed three passengers and injured 180 others.
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Many survivors of the Asiana Airlines airplane crash in San Francisco have an unusual pattern of serious spinal cord injuries, which doctors say, show how severely and violently they were shaken in spite of wearing their seatbelts. According to an article in the USA Today, two people have been unable to move their legs. Many others have needed surgery to stabilize their spines so they can move. Several passengers have also sustained crushed vertebrae that compress the spinal cord and ligaments that have been so stretched and torn that they cannot hold neck and back joints in place.
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Brooke Baum, 33, of Newport Beach, died in a December 26, 2008 skydiving accident after her parachute failed to fully deploy during a jump at a popular skydiving center in Perris. According to this news report in The Orange County Register, Baum jumped out of an airplane at 12,500 feet above the Perris Valley Skydiving facility at Perris Valley Airport. Family members and friends said Baum was an experienced skydiver.

My heart goes out to the family of Brooke Baum for their tragic loss. I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who knew and loved this young woman. Please keep them in your prayers.

According to this newspaper report, Brooke Baum’s is the third accident involving skydivers since July and the fifth since March 2005 at this Perris skydiving facility. Baum’s friends, who were there with her at the time, are puzzled about why her parachute did not open. By the time the reserve chute opened, it was too late for Baum. Her friends also said she didn’t seem to have any medical condition and was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the accident.
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Curtis Dale Cauthen, 31, was killed in a December 17, 2008 in a Santa Clarita helicopter accident. According to this KTLA news report, Cauthen, a mechanic for Swanson Aviation, was killed when a gust of wind caused a helicopter to blow over and spiral out of control. Cauthen, who was doing some work on the ground, was struck by one of the helicopter’s blades.

The helicopter was apparently contracted by Southern California Edison to string power lines between poles, Los Angeles County fire officials said. The helicopter’s pilot suffered minor injuries. The crash is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Cauthen’s employer, Swanson Aviation, is a sub-contractor working on Edison’s massive Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project.

I offer my deepest condolences to the family of Curtis Dale Cauthen, who was tragically killed on the job. Please keep this family in your prayers.
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The family of an Oceanside, California woman who fell to her death during an October 2007 hot air balloon accident in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has reached a $1.4 million settlement with the company that managed the balloon rides. According to an Associated Press news report, 60-year-old Rosemary Wooley Phillips fell through a hole in the balloon’s gondola when the balloon’s pilot became entangled in power lines.

The accident happened immediately after the balloon’s pilot became distracted watching another hot air balloon crash into a house, an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed months after the accident. The wrongful death lawsuit, filed by Phillips’ sister, named the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta pilot Tom Reyes and his two employers; Albuquerque based Star Trail Inc. and Rainbow Ryders. Four other passengers in the balloon, including Phillips’ partner Cheri Dias, suffered minor injuries. The $1.4 million was apparently the limit of what the Fiesta was insured to cover and was shared between Dias, Phillips’ two siblings and another friend, who was injured in the crash as well.
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Officials have identified the four people who died in the December 8, 2008 F-18 plane crash in San Diego as Young Mi Yoon, 36; her two daughters 15-month-old Grace and 2-month-old Rachel and mother 60-year-old Suk Im Kim. The only surviving member of the family is Yoon’s husband, Dong Yun Yoon, who was at work when the accident happened. Our source for this blog is this Associated Press news report.

One day after the heartbreaking tragedy that wiped out his entire family, Yoon held a press conference feet away from his destroyed home, asking people in the community for advice about what to do next. He asked guidance from people who have suffered “more terrible things.” The Associated Press article quoted Yoon as saying: “Please tell me how to do it. I don’t know what to do.”
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Three people are dead and one other is presumed dead after a U.S. Military jet crashed around noon on December 8, 2008 in University City, San Diego.
According to this news report in the San Diego Union-Tribune, a mother, her young child and the child’s grandmother died at 4416 Cather Avenue when the disabled F/A-18D Hornet crashed into the house in what is described as a “fiery explosion.”

A second child was missing and presumed dead before rescue personnel suspended their search at nightfall. None of the victims have been identified yet, but the newspaper describes the victims as a family of Korean immigrants.

My heart goes out to this beautiful family that perished as a result of this nightmarish aviation accident. I offer my deepest condolences to the father who was away from home at work when the accident occurred. Please keep this grieving man in your prayers.

The jet’s pilot, a student pilot at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, had apparently ejected safely and was listed in good condition at the San Diego Naval Medical Center.
He was en route from the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln that was operating in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego. He lost one engine over the ocean and the other failed over the neighborhood. The crash occurred less than a quarter mile from University City High School.
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has agreed to pay $4.5 million to the only person who survived a mid-air collision of two helicopters at the Torrance Municipal Airport on Nov. 6 2003. According to a Sept. 23 article in the Daily Breeze, 27-year-old Gavin Heyworth, a former Marine, suffered severe injuries in the helicopter crash including two broken legs, a separated pelvis, spine fractures, brain hemorrhaging, collapsed lungs and broken ribs.

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation blamed Heyworth for the crash, but a federal judge ruled that air traffic controller error, negligence and carelessness led to the catastrophic collision. U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper also found the tower to be understaffed and that the air traffic controllers did not adequately communicate with one another when the air traffic in the area increased.
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A San Diego jury has awarded more than $55 million in a California wrongful death lawsuit filed by the families of four U.S. Marines killed after their helicopter struck a utility tower at Camp Pendleton. According to a Sept. 3 article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, jurors decided that San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), owners of the tower were negligent because they did not install safety devices such as lights or ball markers to prevent aviation accidents.

The four Marines who died in the helicopter crash were: Capt. Adam E. Miller, 29; 1st Lt. Michael S. Lawlor, 26; Staff Sgt. Lori A. Privette, 27; and Cpl. Joshua D. Harris, 21. The jury reportedly determined that SDG&E bore 56 percent responsibility for the fatal collision that occurred on Jan. 22, 2004, when two Marine helicopters were conducting training exercises at night.

I find it inexcusable that SDG&E knew about the hazard their utility tower posed to aircraft, especially helicopters, but didn’t follow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommendations to install safety devices so pilots can see the utility towers at night. Attorneys representing the Marines’ families said that the crash would not have happened if the Marines had been able to see the towers and that the utility company put profit ahead of safety by not fixing the problem.
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Officials believe a San Francisco helicopter crash has killed eight firefighters and one pilot involved in battling a wildfire in Northern California. According to an Associated Press news report, the Sikorsky S-61N helicopter was destroyed after it crashed in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Officials have still not been able to pinpoint why the accident occurred. Four others who were in the helicopter suffered severe burns. Two are in critical condition.

Some of the firefighters, including those in the hospital, were reportedly employed by firefighting contractor Grayback Forestry, based in Merlin, Oregon. The helicopter was owned and operated by Carson Helicopters Inc., a Pennsylvania company whose firefighting operations are based in Grants Pass, Oregon.

There are several possibilities for what went wrong and who is responsible for this fatal helicopter accident. Officials are still trying to recover the bodies of the helicopter accident victims from the wreckage. Please keep the victims and their families in your prayers.

Many questions arise out of this incident. Was this a pilot error? Was it an air traffic controller’s error? Was it a maintenance issue? Or was it caused by a defective part? The injured men will get their workers’ compensation benefits. But they and their families will also find out that the benefits they are entitled to through California’s workers’ compensation system are embarrassingly low.

If this helicopter accident and the resulting injuries are the fault of a third party, the injured and the families of the deceased will be entitled to the full measure of compensation – as much as 20 times what the workers’ compensation system will provide. A third party would be the pilot, air traffic control, spotters, whomever was responsible for maintenance of the helicopter and so. A third party is pretty much anyone other than an employer or co-employee.
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