Lawsuits: Flight for Life helicopter crash could have been prevented
FRISCO, Colo. — The two surviving passengers on the Flight for Life helicopter that crashed earlier this month filed a lawsuit against the companies who manufactured the helicopter, lawyers representing the survivors announced Friday.
“This was a preventable crash,” said Peter W. Rietz of Rietz Law Firm, a Dillon, Colo.-based attorney representing the families. “It is the sincere wish of the families that we find out precisely how this tragedy occurred so that we can prevent others from having to go through what they are suffering.”
The lawsuits allege that the helicopter “became uncontrollable due to either a malfunction or design defect of the tail rotor system,” according to a press release on Friday.
“Witnesses at the scene reported that the helicopter was spinning immediately upon takeoff, which would be consistent with tail rotor failure,” said Rietz.
The lawsuits also claim that the helicopter was unsafe and not crashworthy, because the fuel tank ruptured and burst into flames upon moderate ground impact.
The suits were filed on behalf of David Repsher, 45, of Silverthorne and Matthew Bowe, 32, of Frisco. Both victims were flight nurses on board the helicopter which was en route to Eagle/Vail for a public relations event for the American Spirit of Adventure Boy Scout Camp when it crashed shortly after takeoff in a parking lot at St. Anthony’s Summit Medical Center on July 3.
When crews arrived, the helicopter and two nearby vehicles were engulfed in flames. The helicopter went down in an employee parking lot west of the hangar.
Repsher remains in critical condition at University of Colorado Hospital and 90 percent of his body was burned in the post-crash fire, according to the press release.
Helicopter pilot Patrick Mahany , 64, died in the crash. Bowe suffered severe internal injuries and permanent disability, their lawyers say.
“If the fuel tank had remained intact, David would not have suffered these horribly severe burn injuries,” said Rietz.
The lawsuits name Air Methods Corporation, the helicopter operator, as well as the manufacturer and distributor, Airbus Helicopters S.A.S. of France and Airbus Helicopters, Inc. out of Grand Prairie, Texas, respectively.
The lawsuits seek unspecified damages.
Flight for Life Colorado provides critical care transport with five helicopters, three airplanes and three ambulances. Flight for Life was the first hospital-based air ambulance in the United States.
With the help of the Flight for Life foundation, a fund was started in honor of the crew members and their families. To make a contribution, visit: gofundme.com/flightforlifeco