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Helicopter crash survivor sues for unspecified damages

lawGULFPORT — A Montana man injured in a helicopter crash in the DeSoto National Forest in south Mississippi has sued the manufacturers of the helicopter and the engine.

Named as defendants are Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., the helicopter’s manufacturer, and Rolls-Royce Corp., which makes and distributes the 250-C30P turbo-shaft engine. Both are based in Delaware.

“Our initial investigation, which included crash site inspection and analysis, leads to engine failure as the cause of this helicopter crash,” attorney Gary C. Robb of Kansas City, Missouri, who represents Brendan Mullen, said in a news release.

Court records show the companies have not responded to the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Gulfport, Mississippi, and seeks unspecified damages.

The National Transportation Safety Board has not released a report on the crash.

Mullen, 43, of Helena, Montana, was the only survivor of the March 30 accident. Two others died in the crash, a Forest Service employee and the pilot, who worked for a Louisiana company. Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove said the pilot, 40-year-old Brandon Ricks of Blanchard, Oklahoma, died of smoke inhalation. He said 55-year-old Steven W. Cobbs of Wiggins died of multiple blunt force trauma.

The accident occurred during a prescribed burn. Mullen was a supervisory forest technician for the U.S. Forest Service. He was in charge of dispersing the material to ignite the fire for the controlled burn.

The civil complaint gives only one side of the legal argument. It alleges both companies knew or should have known the helicopter and its component parts were defective and could cause serious or permanent injuries. It claims the companies failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions about dangerous conditions that could result.

Mullen managed to escape after the cockpit and cabin separated from other parts of the helicopter and caught fire. He was burned over 15 percent of his body, had a broken neck and abdominal trauma, according to the lawsuit.

Robb said Mullen remains hospitalized.



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