Widow Says Utility Pole Caused Plane Crash
ATLANTA (CN) - A prominent Georgia surgeon died during a failed airplane landing caused by a poorly placed electrical transmission pole, his widow claims in court.
Mary Anne Roth sued Georgia Power Co., Milliken & Company, McDuffie County and the city of Thomson in Fulton County State Court.
She claims that the Hawker Beechcraft 390 Premier I executive aircraft in which her husband, Dr. Steven Roth, was a passenger crashed after hitting an electrical transmission pole located east of a runway at Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport. The pilot hit the pole while the crew was executing an aborted landing, called a "go-around," according to the complaint.
Pilots or air-traffic control commonly order the maneuver in which the aircraft will prepare for landing and, if there is an unsafe condition on the runway or if the plane is not configured properly for landing, the plane will fly back up to circuit height and repeat the landing process.
Upon making the final landing, the aircraft hit the pole and accompanying power lines at 59 feet above ground level before crashing a quarter of a mile away, according to the complaint. Roth says the pole in question was a known flight hazard to defendants and was declared "a hazard to air navigation under the standards of" federal regulations.
The city of Thomson and McDuffie County obtained an Aviation Easement in 1973 from Milliken & Co., which owned property adjacent to the airport. The easement obligated the municipalities "to protect the approach and departure surfaces existing within the Runway Protection Zone located at the departure end of Runway 10 of the Airport from obstructions," the complaint states.
Roth says that, many years later, in conflict with the Aviation Easement, Milliken & Company granted Georgia Power an easement to install power lines in the aviation area.
One of these poles was located 1624.5 "feet from the departure end of Runway 10, and Fifty-Two (52) feet left of the extended runway departure centerline of Runway 10," the complaint states.
Its close proximity to runways allegedly made the pole an "obstruction" under FAA regulations.
Roth says that the "defendants had actual or constructive knowledge that Pole 48 constituted an obstruction to air navigation, in that it exceeded the height permissible under Part 77 by approximately 24 feet and exceeded the height limitations of the Aviation Easement. At no time, however, did defendants, or any of them, take any steps to remedy the unsafe condition."
James Wall of the Augusta firm Wall Ellison represents Roth in the wrongful death action seeking punitive damages.
Roth's husband was remembered after the crash as a successful vascular surgeon who developed a specialized technique to perform minimally invasive vein procedures. After moving to Augusta, Dr. Roth affiliated with University Hospital in Augusta, Ga., and created his own vein facility, where he focused on treatment of vein disease. The 48-year-old was the father of two children.