FAA sued in medevac helicopter crash

Mother of victim alleges controllers were negligent

February 28, 2011|By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

The mother of a victim in the September 2008 Maryland State Police helicopter crash that killed four people near Andrews Air Force base filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday, contending that the agency's air traffic controllers gave the pilot inaccurate weather information.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt by Stephanie D. Younger of Waldorf, mother of crash victim Ashley Younger, is expected to be the last of several filed against the FAA, according to the law firm representing the plaintiff. The state of Maryland is among those who have sued the agency.

At the time of the crash, 17-year-old Ashley Younger was being transported to Prince George's Hospital Center for treatment of injuries she received in an automobile crash near Waldorf on the night of Sept. 27, 2008.

The helicopter, known as Trooper 2, crashed in rainy weather, killing the pilot, a paramedic and an emergency medical technician in addition to the teenager.

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the primary cause of the crash was pilot Stephen H. Bunker's decision to make a rapid descent and his misjudgment of weather conditions before he took off. But the board also criticized the performance of FAA air traffic controllers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Andrews.

The lawsuit claims the controllers were unresponsive and inattentive after Bunker told them he had encountered deteriorating weather conditions that were preventing him from continuing the flight to the hospital. Among other lapses, the suit alleges that controllers gave the pilot outdated weather information that exaggerated the level of visibility as Bunker attempted an emergency landing at Andrews.

Charles Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, said lawyers would have to review the lawsuit before deciding how to answer it. In response to a previous suit brought by the widow of paramedic Mickey Lippy, the department pointed to the pilot's actions as the cause of the crash.

The lawsuit will be the last filed against the FAA in the case, according to plaintiff's lawyer Cara J. Luther. She said that Stephanie Younger, who represents her daughter's estate, is the last of those who filed the required claims against the government to file suit.

The lawsuit does not specify an amount of damages but leaves that determination to the court.


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