Family of firefighters killed in chopper crash voice frustration

Two former employees of the helicopter crash have been indicted for falsifying weight and performance records

Family members of firefighters who died in one of the worst helicopter crashes in U.S. history had strong words for two former Carson Helicopter Inc. employees accused of falsifying weight and performance records on the aircraft.

"We were told this crash was preventable and predictable on many levels, and sadly we have found that to be true," Nina Charlson, a mother of one of the victims, wrote in an email to the Mail Tribune. "Initially when I was told about the crash — foul play was not what came to my mind. Accidents happen. But this was no accident and it complicates the grief we are experiencing."

Former Carson Vice President Steven Metheny, 42, of Central Point, and maintenance director Levi Phillips, 45, of Grants Pass, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Medford on charges the two conspired to defraud the U.S. Forest Service by falsifying information about the weight, balance and performance of firefighting helicopters — including the one that crashed in August 2008 in Northern California, killing nine. Charlson's son Scott Charlson, 25, of Phoenix, was among the seven firefighters from Jackson and Josephine counties who died in the crash. The command pilot and a Forest Service employee also died.

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