York v. Tropic Air

On September 7, 2008, a Cessna 208B Caravan operated by Tropic Air lost engine power shortly after takeoff from Belize City Municipal Airport. The flight was headed to Philip S.W. Goldson International airport in Belize City with four U.S. citizens and one pilot on board. Almost immediately after takeoff, the engine failed, and the pilot tried to make an emergency landing on a beach. However, the pilot crash landed on a roadway that had just been bulldozed. The left wing clipped a tree, which swung the airplane over a levee into the water. The plane eventually came to rest in 2 feet of water and broke into two pieces.

The passengers said that once the plane took off, there was no warning of the crash. They heard a loud noise and the plane began to descend. As the pilot landed it on the newly bulldozed road, the rough terrain caused the passengers to be whipped from side to side seven or eight times violently. Once they exited the plane into the levee, they were covered with fuel from the airplane. Due to the lack of a navigable road, it took a great deal of time for the Belize Emergency Response Team to get to them. They were instructed to climb a 15 foot embankment and walk out to an unpaved road. Confusion reigned on the scene as the rescuers then told the injured passengers to climb back to the embankment and board boats that took them to a dock where they were ferried to the hospital.

The four passengers onboard were all from Texas and had various injuries from minor to serious, including chemical burns from being covered in jet fuel. Slack Davis Sanger represented two of the passengers, one of whom suffered multiple neck injuries, facial lacerations and other injuries requiring multiple surgeries. The firm’s experience handling complex international litigation resulted in a substantial settlement for our clients.

Investigative Report