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.
Apparently, Heyworth, who at the time was a student flying solo in a Robinson R-22, was told to land by crossing midfield. And a Robinson R-44 with Robert Bailey and Brett Boyd, was given directions, which basically put their helicopter on a collision course with Heyworth’s aircraft. Both Bailey and Boyd died in the crash. According to NTSB’s statistics, roughly 8 percent of aviation accidents that occur in the U.S. are because of human error other than the pilot’s, which means it is because of an error made by air traffic controllers, loading or maintenance staff.
I’m pleased for the victim, although I think he should have gotten more given the pain and suffering he’s been through. The article says that Heyworth had been a healthy young man who led an active lifestyle. He’s been left disabled and dependent for the rest of his life because of the negligence and careless of the air traffic controllers. The money the government has settled for is nothing compared to what Heyworth has been through and will go through in the future.