The widow of Netflix star Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson is personally suing Outback Wrangler Matt Wright over the fatal NT helicopter crash that killed him.
Danielle Wilson previously filed a civil claim against her helicopter company Helibrook and Australia’s Civil Aviation Authority, alleging the pair failed in their duty of care to her late husband when he fell to his death on a crocodile egg collecting trip. .
Chris Wilson was suspended from a Robinson R44 helicopter known as VH-IDW when it fell to the ground near King River in Arnham Land in February 2022.
In December, Mrs Wilson brought proceedings in the Federal Court over what her lawyers allege were “unlawful acts or omissions” which caused or contributed to the death of her late husband.
Helibrook, the company owned by Wilson’s co-star Matt Wright, and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), which authorized his suspension from the helicopter, were named as respondents.
But on Thursday, Ms Wilson’s lawyer, David Lloyd SC, indicated he would add Mr Wright himself as a third defendant to the suit, saying he was “effectively asserting the same cause of action for negligence that is alleged against his company.” .
Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson’s widow Danielle (pictured together) through her lawyers has filed an interlocutory application to sue Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright over the fatal helicopter crash.
Helibrook, the company owned by Wilson’s co-star Matt Wright (pictured), and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), are among those surveyed.
Lloyd said there were concerns that QBE could deny Helibrook insurance cover and that if his client’s case was successful they would not be able to “enforce” the court ruling, The West Australian reports.
He also said his client would also seek to freeze the assets of Mr Wright and his wife Kaia until the case is over.
The couple run multiple business and tourism businesses in the Northern Territory.
He said Wright had told him through legal correspondence that he was covered by Helibrook’s insurance policy, so an order freezing his assets would not be necessary.
At this week’s court hearing it was agreed that the application to freeze assets would be delayed until next week to give QBE the opportunity to make their position clear on whether they would defend the insurance claim.
Ms Wilson seeks costs, damages, interest, interest on costs and “any other order the court considers appropriate” for psychological harm caused by the conduct.
In court papers, Ms Wilson’s lawyers allege that CASA breached its duty of care to Mr Wilson by approving the Helibrook launch operation.
According to the factual background contained in the documents, picking up or suspending people on airplanes was prohibited between 2007 and 2021 unless authorized by CASA.
The regulations as of December 2021 only allowed slinging operations under strict regulations.
At the time of the accident, the Robinson helicopter was operating with a CASA instrument that permitted such slinging operations.
Matt and Kaia Wright run multiple business and tourism businesses in the Northern Territory.
Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson was collecting crocodile eggs while suspended from a Robinson R44 helicopter known as VH-IDW when he fell to the ground near the NT’s King River.
Ms Wilson’s lawyers allege that appropriate conditions were not established, without carrying out an appropriate or adequate risk assessment and “without ongoing monitoring, evaluation and/or verification of the participants carrying out the activity and their practices”.
A report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) concluded that the accident was probably due to the helicopter running out of fuel.
The bureau determined that Wilson likely fell from a height of more than 5 m when the pilot attempted an emergency landing, resulting in his death.
In the documents, they further allege that Helibrook breached its duty of care to Mr Wilson by failing to carry out a risk assessment of the slinging operation.
“(Helibrook) failed to hire appropriate pilots or adequately train pilots and other personnel in connection with slinging operations,” the documents allege.
Wilson’s lawyers claim the company failed to ensure that pilots briefed the crew on emergency procedures or maintained the helicopter.
It is further alleged that the company “allowed VH-IDW to fly in a manner that compromised the pilot’s ability to ensure there was adequate fuel” for the operation.
Sebastian Robinson, the pilot at the time who suffered serious injuries in the crash, allegedly failed to conduct a risk assessment as Helibrook’s employer.
Wilson’s lawyers say a risk assessment would have identified “a number of issues”, including the likelihood of her husband dying from heights greater than 5 metres.
The bureau determined that Wilson (pictured) likely fell from a height of more than 5m when the pilot attempted an emergency landing, resulting in his death.
“CASA owed Mr. Wilson a duty to exercise reasonable care in the exercise and performance of his statutory powers and functions,” his lawyers allege in the documents.
‘Helibrook owed… a duty of care as his employer or equivalent.
In the documents, Ms. Wilson’s lawyers state that the plaintiff “claims negligence against CASA and Helibrook” and “in the alternative… the plaintiff claims damages for Mr. Wilson’s death, for which Helibrook is strictly liable.” as a carrier.”
In their assessment of the alleged harm caused to Ms Wilson, her lawyers state: ‘(She) suffered nervous shock or psychiatric harm and loss of maintenance and support from Mr Wilson during the course of her life… (and) costs (including the costs of attending any coronial inquest).’
A CASA spokeswoman said it would not be appropriate to comment on the process as it is before the courts.
A spokesman for Gillis Delaney Lawyers, which represents Mr Wright, said the proceedings had been referred to Helibrook’s insurer “who will lead the defense of the claim”.
“The application states that the pilot, who was an independent contractor, is responsible and alleges that Helibrook is responsible for his actions,” the spokesperson said.
Wilson’s lawyers claim the company failed to ensure that pilots briefed the crew on emergency procedures or maintained the helicopter. Mr. Wilson appears in the photo.
“The insurance provider will defend the process and we hope that the contractor Pilot and his company will participate in the process.”
In addition to the recent lawsuit, Mr Wright has been committed to stand trial on a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice in the Northern Territory Supreme Court next year.
Wright has “strenuously” denied any wrongdoing.
During pretrial proceedings on December 7, Mr. Wright’s representatives issued a statement acknowledging that “one of the seven charges was sent today for trial next year.”
The other charges against him include one count of intimidating a helicopter pilot, one count of destroying evidence, one count of fabricating evidence, two counts of criminal trespass and one count of making a false statement.
“The other charges will remain pending resolution of the charge now before the Supreme Court,” Wright said in a statement.
“I am hopeful that all remaining charges will be dropped once this charge is resolved next year.”
Two of Wright’s co-defendants, Michael Burbidge and former police officer Neil Mellon, pleaded guilty to destroying evidence of their role in the incident.