Articles Posted in Aviation

The U.S. Coast Guard received a call at 6:35 P.M. on Wednesday from Westwind Helicopter Inc. personnel confirming a company helicopter crashed into the Gulf with three people aboard. The crash occurred 46 miles offshore near Morgan City.

The Coast Guard District Eight watchstanders coordinated the launch of a Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew and diverted an Aviation Training Center Mobile HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew to assist. The Jayhawk aircrew arrived and found two crewmembers hanging onto life rafts. These two crewmembers were hoisted from the water. The body of a deceased third crewmember was found in the fuselage of the submerged helicopter.

The two surviving crewmembers were transferred to University Medical Center New Orleans and were last reported to be in critical condition. The cause of the incident is still under investigation.

On Tuesday, December 14, 2021, a helicopter crashed on the Interstate 10 bridge over the Bonnett Carre Spillway during fog after clipping an Entergy Louisiana transmission line. The pilot, Jason Hawley, was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident briefly cut electricity to over 20,000 customers in Kenner and Metairie and caused a multi-parish traffic jam on I-10. The Bell 407 chopper was headed from Gonzales to Lakefront Airport in New Orleans to pick up passengers that afternoon.

The National Transportation Safety Board will take the lead on the crash investigation with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Broussard & David extends their condolences to Jason Hawley’s family and friends. Broussard & David also wants to remind all pilots to take the necessary precautions that are needed during bad weather.

An average of 16,500 car accidents occur daily across the United States. In the blink of an eye, a rear-end car accident can completely turn one’s life upside down by causing life-altering injuries. Such an event can leave one lost as to what to do next, scared as to the daunting recovery process that lies ahead, and confused as to where to even begin. Some insight into the expected process of legal settlements may aid you or a loved one in making important decisions following a tragic accident.

In Louisiana, a car accident resulting in an injury, death, or property damage resulting in over $500 requires the parties by law to contact the local police department. Following the accident, an injured party should seek legal assistance. This will significantly offset the post-accident burdens of both filing a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company and gathering  supporting evidence like medical examinations, photos, and witness testimony.

Further, an attorney can file suit against a negligent party, thereby holding that party liable for their actions. The lawsuit must be brought within 1 year of the date of the accident or else the claim is forever lost. Once the legal process begins, parties will work tirelessly to reach what is known as a settlement. A settlement resolves the dispute by dropping the claim before reaching trial in return for a monetary compensation. Settlement processes can last anywhere from a few months to a few years depending on the severity of the injuries and the accident. In the settlement process, the injured party seeks recompense for physical pain and suffering, repair or replacement of their car, medical expenses, mental anguish from the accident, lost wages, as well as other forms of damages.

On the morning of Sunday, May 20, 2018, a helicopter crash in a marsh in St. Charles Parish claimed the life of one crew member and injured two others. None of the victims resided in Louisiana. One passenger died from his injuries in the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene. Another crewman suffered severe injuries possibly a fractured spine, but the pilot sustained less severe injuries. The pilot and crewmen worked for a company that Entergy subcontracted with to conduct routine inspections on transmission lines. According to the investigation, the helicopter’s landing gear caught on one of the power lines and caused the crash.

Three friends preparing for a cookout heard the crash and jumped into action to rescue any survivors. Due to the marshy terrain, the three men jumped into an amphibious vehicle to get to the crash site. Upon approaching the crash site, the men described a “frightening” scene with smoke billowing and the marsh grass ablaze around the downed helicopter. The rescuers took the crew’s helmets and started scooping marsh water onto the flames. One of the men took the pilot to a nearby road in order to direct first responders to the crash site. First responders were able to access the crash site via airboat and rescue the two survivors.

After an unfortunate crash like this one, Louisiana Law provides remedies for victims to recover for their injuries. Since the crash occurred during the course and scope of the passengers’ employment, the injured victims may seek worker’s compensation. Moreover, the family of the deceased crewmen may bring a wrongful death action pursuant to Louisiana Civil Code article 2315.2. The family members have one year from the date of this crash to bring the action to recover.

After a routine mosquito abatement flight, an airplane crash that left two dead will likely lead to changes at a Slidell airport.

Wayne Fisher, 68, and Donald Pechon, 59, were found dead after another pilot reported seeing a spark of electricity from high-power transmission lines near the Slidell Municipal Airport followed by a plume of flame just north of a runway.  The pilots collided with the transmission towers, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.  The report notes that it was a calm, clear night at the time of the crash, with visibility at 10 miles.  According to Airport manager Richard Artigue, both men were experienced pilots and Fisher was a reserved deputy with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and flew helicopters in that capacity.

The primary factor in the crash, appears to be the location of the towers in relation to the airport.  Even though the towers conform to Federal Aviation Administration regulations, Artigue reported that local officials have long recognized the potential safety hazard.   While the only other fatal crash at Slidell Municipal Airport occurred in 1974, the April 19 crash has compelled officials to address the relocation of the transmission lines. As Artigue noted, the airport is used by far less experienced pilots than Fisher and Pechon and is heavily utilized for student pilot training.

An Oklahoma woman has filed suit against Rolls-Royce over the death of her husband, alleging that the engine of the helicopter he was piloting was defective and caused the fatal crash.

Collen Ricks of Grady County, Oklahoma, along with her two minor children, sued the Rolls-Royce Corporation on March 30 in the United States Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  The complaint alleged that the defendant aircraft engine provider defectively designed and/or manufactured turbine systems that would develop cracks in the exhaust system.

According to the suit,  Brandon Ricks was piloting a Model 206 L-1 Bell Helicopter on a public use flight near Saucier, Mississippi pursuant to a contract with the U.S. Forest Service.  At some point during this flight, the helicopter suddenly lost power, causing the fatal crash in question.

A pilot’s wife has accused several companies of performing faulty maintenance on the helicopter her husband was flying when it suffered catastrophic engine failure, which led to his death.

Colleen Hicks, of Oklahoma, individually, on behalf of her minor children, and as representative of her husband, Brandon Seth Ricks, filed suit on December 10 against Cadorath Aerospace LaFayette LLC, H&H Turbine Services LLC and Rotorcraft Leasing Co. LLC, claiming negligence that resulted in Brandon Ricks’s death.

The complaint states that Brandon Ricks, age 40, was piloting a Model 206 L-1 helicopter from Griffin Memorial Airport in Mississippi to aid in a controlled burn initiated by the U.S. Forest Service on March 30.  At a point during the flight, engine failed, resulting in a crash that killed both Ricks and the passenger.  According to the suit, Cadorath and the other defendants performed negligent maintenance on the craft from 2009 to 2014 which caused the engine failure in question.

A three-vehicle crash in Delcambre resulted the death of an uncle and nephew from Abbeville, according to police reports.

On November 26, 2015, Jones Mitchell and Gerald Mitchell were traveling west on Suzuki motorcycles on LA 14 and approaching an east-west crossover.  An 18-wheeler, driven by Earnest Comesana Jr.,  was traveling east on LA 14 and approaching the same crossover.   Comesana turned left into the crossover to begin traveling east and the Mitchells were unable to avoid colliding with Comesana’s trailer as it entered their lane of travel.

Although the Mitchell’s were wearing Department of Transportation-approved helmets, both received fatal injuries as a result of the collision and were pronounced dead at the scene by the Iberia Parish Coroner’s Office.  Comensana was properly restrained at the time of the crash and received no injuries.

A tugboat captain has sued a fellow tug company as a result of an injury sustained while on the water, according to the filed complaint

Troy Matthiews, a tugboat captain for Bayou Vista, and Tracey, his wife, have filed suit against Crosby Tugs, citing negligence and personal injury stemming from an alleged incident occurring in 2014.

On November 30, 2014, Matthiews was attempting to cross from his boat, the Morgan Ray, to another tugboat, when both boats were passed by a third.  According to the complaint, the third boat, the Crosby Rambler, was going at an excessive rate of speed.  As a result, the wave generated in the Rambler’s wake knocked Matthiews off balance and tossed him between the two other boats, causing severe injury.

Another lawsuit has arisen from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, this time stemming from the cleanup of the aforementioned accident.

Josip Piacun filed a complaint against BP Exploration & Production Inc., and B.P. America Production Co. alleging gross negligence under general maritime law.  Piacun claimed that the company negligently exposed him to hazardous and cancer-causing compounds.

Piacun was hired as a vessel captain in April 20, 2010, in response to the BP oil spill.  While he was employed from June 2010 to December 2010, Piacun claims BP negligently exposed him to dermal and airborne chemical compounds that are generally accepted to be toxic, volatile, and carcinogenic.  The suit states that, as a result of this exposure, Piacun “developed psychological, dermal, respiratory, and cardiopulmonary complications.”