The lawyer of a helicopter company claims a victim in the fatal East River accident that left five passengers dead, he knew what he was getting into.
Airbus Helicopters' attorney, Thomas M. Mealiffe, wrote in the court documents that Trevor Norris Cadigan & # 39; voluntarily undertook and assumed the known risk of being a passenger on a flight & # 39; doors outside – while it was being controlled by a harness that could not be easily released. . & # 39;
The 26-year-old Cadigan family of Dallas sued the helicopter company and pilot Richard Vance, the only survivor of the river accident on March 11.
The lawyer of a helicopter company blames a victim of the fatal East River accident that left five passengers dead: Trevor Norris Cadigan
According to the NTSB preliminary report released on Monday, Vance told investigators that he believed the fuel was closed when a passenger's restraint strap became entangled with an emergency fuel-cut switch on the aircraft ( in the photo)
Cardigan and his four traveling companions; Daniel Thompson, 34, Tristan Hill, 29, Carla Vallejos Blanco, 29, and Brian McDaniel, were trapped underwater by their safety harnesses.
Vance, who was not wearing a harness, escaped with minor injuries.
"We can only imagine what the last moments of his life were like as he struggled to breathe because he could not break free," Cadigan family attorney Gary Robb told the Post.
The Manhattan Family Supreme Court's lawsuit holds the helicopter company responsible for failing to provide "adequate and safe aircraft and aircraft services."
Brian McDaniel (left) and Daniel Thompson (right), 34, died in the accident
Carla Vallejos Blanco, 29, (left) and, 29 years old, Tristan Hill (right) were also victims
But Mealiffe insists that Cadigan's family did not have a case because he had accepted the risk.
The recovery of "Plaintiffs" should be prohibited and / or reduced to the extent that plaintiffs have not mitigated their alleged damages, and any recovery should not include alleged damages that could have been avoided with reasonable care and diligence, "Mealiffe wrote.
Robb, however, dismissed Airbus' response by saying that no one who boarded the helicopter thought they were going to drown.
The Federal Aviation Administration has not yet published its official report, but ordered operators to suspend "access door" flights in March and grant "urgent attention to the use of the harness."
Richard Vance (pictured), 33, the pilot in the helicopter crash of New York City tried to turn on the fuel supply after being disconnected by the restriction of a passenger
Robb now expects the Cadigan suit to end open-door flights.
"The family is simply shocked and outraged because their son was drowned in this way in what was supposed to be a pleasant helicopter tour," Robb said.
Earlier this year, investigators heard how the pilot in the New York City helicopter crash tried desperately to reconnect the fuel supply after it was reportedly shut down midway through the flight restriction of a passenger.
Vance, 33, told investigators from the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) that he went to turn off the switch because the ship was going down, but discovered that it was already off and that part of the harness was underneath.
According to the preliminary report of the NTSB, he believed that the fuel was closed when a passenger's fastening strap became entangled with an emergency fuel-cut switch.
Five passengers who could not free themselves from their harnesses drowned in the East River when the helicopter rolled into the water.
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Vance is seen walking the banks moments after being removed from the East River after the accident.
In his interview, Vance said the helicopter, on an open door flight, had been traveling through Central Park when the passenger in the front seat turned sideways and extended his feet off the plane to take a picture.
It was at that moment that the pilot began to experience problems.
The front passenger's harness had already been released once during the flight, said the pilot, who reminded passengers of previous flights that they also accidentally released their seat belts.
Vance said he briefly considered landing in Central Park, but he thought there were too many people.
Liberty Helicopters said in a statement that it was focused on supporting families affected by this tragic accident & # 39; He added that he was cooperating with the researchers.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on March 16 ordered an end to so-called "out-of-doors" helicopter trips unless passengers are equipped with quick-release safety systems.
The NTSB has previously raised safety concerns about the safety of fuel controls in the helicopter model involved in the accident, the Eurocopter AS350.
The NTSB has not issued any findings on the cause of the accident (left and right), and the report did not offer an opinion on whether the pilot's observations were correct
In his interview, Vance said the helicopter, on an open door flight, had been traveling through Central Park when the passenger in the front seat turned sideways and extended his feet off the plane to take a picture. It was at that moment that the pilot began to experience problems
The front passenger's harness had already left once before during the flight, the pilot said. In the photo, the first to respond during search and rescue operations on March 12
After one of the helicopters crashed in Alaska in 2008, killing four people, investigators determined that a passenger probably hit the fuel flow control lever of the aircraft with his foot or backpack.
He noted that Canadian officials blamed a non-fatal accident in 1994 for a similar accidental movement of the fuel control lever by a passenger.
"The NTSB is concerned that the FFCLs on Eurocopter AS350 series helicopters can be easily and inadvertently removed from objects or people, including the pilot and passengers, in flight or on the ground," the NTSB wrote in its report on the collapse of 2008.
He recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration require modifications to the control system to prevent the lever from being accidentally deployed.
The fuel flow control lever involved in those crashes is a different lever than the emergency fuel shut-off switch, but they are side by side in the console.