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$9.5M payout ends copter-crash case

Vol. 13, Issue 176 - Tuesday, June 24, 2008

payout ends copter-crash case

STAR-BULLETIN / 2007
An out-of-court settlement worth $9.5 million has been made over the March 2007 crash-landing of a helicopter in Haena, Kauai, killing one passenger and injuring three others. The helicopter lost its tail assembly prior to the crash.

By Nelson Daranciang
ndaranciang@starbulletin.com


Two survivors from a helicopter crash on Kauai last year will receive $9.5 million in an out-of-court settlement with the aircraft's manufacturers.

  • New Hampshire Couple Gets Settlement For Injuries

payout ends copter-crash case

The couple that was involved in a tour helicopter crash on Kauai last year is getting a big financial settlement.

The helicopter's tail assembly fell off during a tour flight in March 2007, forcing the craft into a crash landing that killed one passenger and injured three.

Boeing Co., which manufactures the McDonnell Douglas 369FF helicopter, and Aluminum Precision Products of Santa Ana, Calif., which makes a bracket that holds the base of the rear rotor blade to the rotor assembly, agreed to pay the money to Judy and Douglas Barton of Newport, N.H., said Rick Fried, the Bartons' Honolulu lawyer.

The Bartons were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary when their Inter-Island Helicopters crash-landed in Haena on Kauai's north shore March 11, 2007. Both suffered broken backs and were taken to Wilcox Memorial Hospital in critical condition. Both were back-seat passengers.

Judy Barton, 52, is paralyzed from the chest down and needs a wheelchair to get around, Fried said. Douglas Barton, 61, can walk, but his back pain prevents him from returning to work as a machinist.

Fried said the couple will use part of the settlement to build a bigger house on their property that is wheelchair-friendly. They now live in a cramped mobile home.

How much of the settlement each company has to pay is confidential. However, neither company asked to have the total amount of the settlement kept secret.

"I think they forgot," Fried said.

Prior to the crash landing, the helicopter lost its tail rotor blades and shaft when it was over the ocean. A preliminary report of the crash by the National Transportation Safety Board said the tail rotor gearbox showed stress fractures.

Fried said the base of the piece that attaches the rotor blades to the rotor assembly was not manufactured properly, restricting its movement and causing stress on the assembly.

Front-seat passenger Michael Gershon, 60, of Walnut Creek, Calif., died in the crash and back-seat passenger Dania Hansen of Los Altos, Calif., suffered serious injuries. Pilot Donald Torres was not injured.

The crash happened three days after another tour helicopter crashed at Kauai's Princeville Airport, killing the pilot and three of his passengers and critically injuring three other passengers.