Helicopter Tour Crash in Kauai, Hawaii

Case Title: Torres v. McDonnell Douglas

On March 11, 2007, a McDonnell Douglas 369FF helicopter, N911VC, crashed in the town of Haena on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. The helicopter was operated by Smoky Mountain Helicopters and doing business as Inter-Island Helicopters, Inc. giving sightseeing tours of Kauai. One passenger was killed while three others suffered serious injuries. On the day of the accident, the pilot had already done two, hour-long tour flights. After each of the flights, he conducted a post-flight inspection which included a check of the tail rotor section. Before his third flight, he made sure that the passengers were on board, with life jackets on, and that all of their belongings were secured. The pilot stated he did not feel anything abnormal in the helicopter vibrations until about halfway through the flight when they were flying over Tunnel Beach. He heard two loud bangs that vibrated through the helicopter. He was able to execute an autorotation over a YMCA campground area and tried to cushion the landing. When he exited the helicopter, he saw that the tail rotor blades and output shaft had separated from the tail rotor gearbox. Several witnesses stated that they heard a pop or bang and saw objects falling into the ocean. They then saw the helicopter spiraling slowly as the main helicopter blades were no longer turning.

One passenger died during the accident, presumably of a heart attack. Three had serious injuries, including one who was paralyzed. The pilot had minor back, ankle, and hand injuries and emotional trauma. Slack Davis Sanger represented the pilot in his suit against the manufacturer of the helicopter. Ladd Sanger negotiated a settlement to help pay for medical costs and loss of income.

Ladd Sanger is an attorney and a licensed pilot who focuses on aviation accidents, including product liability, product litigation, and representing clients who have been injured as a result of aviation accidents. His experience as a pilot helps him understand the technical aspects of aviation crashes.

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