Wrongful death suit filed over 2008 Md. helicopter crash
Attorney asserts air traffic controllers were negligent
By Emily Babay
The Washington Examiner
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — The widower of a volunteer paramedic who died in a 2008 Maryland State Police helicopter crash in Prince George's County has filed a wrongful-death suit against the federal government.
It is the second suit against the government related to the crash. In March, the family of flight paramedic Mickey Lippy filed a $15 million wrongful-death suit.
The family of Tanya Mallard deserves compensation for the "negligence" of Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers, the attorney for her husband, Kenneth Mallard, wrote in the complaint.
The controllers' "collective failure to follow all proper operational protocols and procedures" contributed to the crash that killed four people and injured one, according to the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.
FAA controllers provided the helicopter crew with weather information for the medical transport trip that was "hours old and highly inaccurate, suggesting that visibility was much greater than that which actually existed," the complaint says.
The complaint also claims that controllers were "inattentive" to requests for help.
When the pilot asked for assistance using ground-based radar, the complaint says, an Andrews Air Force Base controller said she was not "current" in that process and did not "render, or attempt to render, any other assistance."
The helicopter crashed after picking up two patients from a car crash near Waldorf. Mallard, Lippy, pilot Steven Bunker and one patient, 17-year-old Ashley Younger, were killed. The other patient, 18-year-old Jordan Wells, survived.
The FAA denied liability in a June letter declining to pay Wells in a personal-injury claim she filed.
FAA officials did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland declined to comment.
A National Transportation Safety Board report found that factors in the crash included the pilot's limited experience, the failure of controllers to provide current weather information and an "increased workload" for the pilot because of "inadequate" air traffic control.
The Mallard family is seeking more than $7 million in compensation for reasons that include loss of future wages, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering and loss of companionship.