Families of Three Killed in Medical Helicopter Crash Awarded $21.7M from Ky. Jury
Sept. 29—A Clay County jury has awarded $21.7 million to survivors of three people killed in the crash of a medical helicopter in June 2013, according to the plaintiffs' attorney.
The crash occurred as the helicopter returned to its base in Manchester.
The crash killed the pilot, Eddy Sizemore, 61, who had been a sheriff's deputy in Laurel County; flight paramedic Herman "Lee" Dobbs, 40, of London; and flight nurse Jesse Jones, 28, of Pineville.
Eight family members of the victims sued Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., the maker of the helicopter.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the crash likely happened because the pilot became disoriented after unexpectedly flying into fog.
Sizemore likely made a maneuver that placed too much stress on the aircraft, which broke apart in the air, the NTSB said.
However, aviation attorney Gary C. Robb said evidence at the trial showed a defect in the main rotor blade of the helicopter caused destructive vibration.
The tail rotor broke off as a result and then the entire roof section of the helicopter, Robb said.
"The company admitted that the main rotor blades did not meet their own manufacturing specifications," Robb said. "It was undisputed that the helicopter broke apart in flight, leaving the crew and pilot helpless."
The jury in Clay County returned its verdict late Thursday.
The families of the three people killed in the crash want the FAA to open an investigation into Bell Helicopter, Robb said. He said he would file a formal complaint with the agency.
An attorney for Bell Helicopter had no immediate comment.