Saturday, September 23, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, September 23, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Family of Man Killed in Copter Crash Sues

SAN DIEGO (CN) - The family of a man killed in a freak helicopter crash at Palomar Airport this past year sued the airport, helicopter manufacturer and the pilot who also died in the crash.

Gary Lewis and his five brothers and sisters filed suit in San Diego Superior Court on Feb. 25 over the death of their "beloved brother" Wayne Lewis, who was the passenger on an Airbus helicopter operated by American Bank CEO Bruce Erickson.

The helicopter spun out and burst into flames this past November as Erickson tried to land the aircraft at the Premier Jet Facility at McClellan-Palomar Airport in north San Diego County. Both men died at the scene.

Lewis and his family claim product liability, negligence and wrongful death. They are seeking damages related to funeral and medical costs and for loss of financial support.

The Lewis family claims the Airbus helicopter had manufacturing defects including a lack of warnings and instructions for safe use which caused the crash and was a substantial factor in causing Lewis' death, according to the 12-page complaint.

Lewis also claims the airport was negligent in properly maintaining the landing site where the crash occurred - including securing the "chock" on each wheel of the mobile helipad to ensure it was stable before the helicopter landed.

Local news outlet 10News reported shortly after the crash that the chock had not been properly secured, which may have been why the helicopter spun out. In audio obtained by the station, Erickson is heard telling air traffic controllers that airport personal failed to secure the moveable landing pad which he claimed "was like a skateboard out here."

Named defendants include Airbus Helicopters, Palomar Airport Center dba Premier Jet and Erickson's estate.

The family is represented by Kevin Boyle, Brian Panish and Matthew Stumpf of Panish Shea & Boyle in Los Angeles.

Palomar Airport told Courthouse News Service they do not comment on pending litigation. Airbus Helicopters did not return an email request for comment, and Boyle did not return a phone call requesting comment.

Follow @@BiancaDBruno
Categories / Uncategorized

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.