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Settlement Reached in Fatal Helicopter Crash

Amount: Undisclosed
Court: U.S. District Court – Eastern District of Missouri
Plaintiff’s Counsel: Jamie R. Lebovitz

An elderly man suffering a heart attack was being transported to a hospital in Evansville, Indiana, when the Air Evac helicopter carrying him crashed on the evening of April 20, 2004. Three crew members, including the pilot, paramedic, and nurse, survived the crash, but the patient did not. Upon investigation, it was determined that the patient survived the initial crash, but died when he was strangled by a chest strap attached to his stretcher. The patient was asphyxiated for about ten minutes before he died, during which time none of the surviving crew members came to his aid. Furthermore, medical records show that the patient had a very good chance of surviving his heart attack had he made it to the hospital.

Prior to the crash, the altimeter on the Bell 206L-1 helicopter was found by another pilot to be operating erratically. The investigation determined that the altimeter reading was about 310 feet higher than helicopter’s actual altitude. The crash pilot was aware of these problems. The probable cause of the accident was “the pilot’s inadequate planning/decision which resulted in his failure to maintain terrain clearance. A contributing factors were the pilot’s inadequate preflight planning. The 63-year-old decedent is survived by his wife.

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