Boise Couple Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit

From the KBOI web site, about the helicopter crash on the Iron 44 fire:

The parents of Gary Lewis and Monica Lee Zajanc filed Monday in Boise federal court a wrongful death suit against Evergreen Helicopters. Lewis, of Cascade, and Zajanc, of Boise, U.S. Forest Service firefighters, died in a helicopter crash Aug. 13, 2006 near Yellowpine. Also killed were Lillian Patten, Olympia, Wash., a fire lookout, and the helicopter’s pilot Quin Stone of Emmett.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation determined the helicopter collided with a 90-foot-tall dead tree. The NTSB concluded the pilot’s intentional low altitude flight and failure to maintain adequate altitude to clear the trees were the crash’s probable cause.

The suit, filed by Larry Zajanc, Nolene Holllifield, Gary and Kay Lewis, contends McMinville, Ore.-based Evergreen, which was under contract with the Forest Service, is responsible for the deaths because their pilot failed to comply with Forest Service helicopter pilot safety requirements. The Forest Service requires all helicopter flights be conducted at least 500 feet above ground level unless the mission required flight at a lower altitude. Stone was transporting the passengers from Williams Peak Lookout to Krassel Helibase, a five-minute flight.

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