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Chopper Crash Deaths Blamed on Power Cos

LAS VEGAS (CN) - Relatives of the five "Dusty Dog" crew members who died when their Navy helicopter crashed into power lines in central Nevada during a night training exercise say Sierra Pacific Power and NV Energy caused the crash by failing to mark their power lines.

The survivors claim in Clark County Court that the power companies "failed to install ... warning lights, ball markers or reflective signs or placards" on power lines "despite ... the likelihood that military aircraft would operate in close proximity" to them.

The SH-60F Seahawk helicopter was flying over the Naval Air Station Fallon Range Complex, about 10 miles west of Austin, Nev., when it hit power lines on May 7, 2007.

All five aboard the helicopter were killed: Cmdr. Michael Sheahan, 40, of Augusta, Ga.; Aviation Warfare Systems Operator Andrew Bibbo, 22, of Clinton, Miss., Aviation Warfare Systems Operator Jerry Rossetto, 24, of Corralitos, Calif.; Lt. Richard Andersen, 27, of Virginia Beach, Va.; and Petty Officer First Class William Weatherford 30, of Wichita, Kan.

Suing on their behalf are Sheahan's wife, Kathleen Sheahan; Bibbo's parents, Joseph and Lori Bibbo; Rosetto's parents, Jerry and Karen Rosetto; Andersen's parents, Richard and Carol Andersen; and Weatherford's wife, Amy Weatherford, and his parents, Steve and Paula Weatherford.

Plaintiffs seek damages for past and future lost earnings and loss of companionship. They also seek medical and funeral expenses.

They are represented by Steven Guinn with Laxalt Nomura.

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