On August 5, 2008 the deadliest firefighter helicopter crash in history occurred in Northern California, killing nine fire fighters in the Trinity National Forest. All killed were from Oregon.
According to The Oregonian, the mother of a 30-year old fire fighter killed in the crash filed a wrongful death suit on February 27, 2009 in the Multnomah County Circuit Court in Oregon. The suit names the manufacturer of the helicopter, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, apparent component makers United Technologies Corp. and General Electric, as well owner/operators Columbia Helicopters, Carson Helicopters and subsidiary Carson Helicopter Services. The suit seeks $8 million in compensation for the death of this young man.
Another wrongful death suit was brought by the heirs of a 29-year-old fire fighter from Medford, and a 23-year-old from Grants Pass last month. The suit named the same defendants and sought compensation of $10 million.
The catastrophic crash occurred on a ridge top where the firefighters were being picked up for transfer to another fire location. Just after lift off, the Sikorsky helicopter failed to clear surrounding trees, slammed into the ground and burst into flames. The National Transportation Safety Board was dispatched to investigate the cause. That investigation is still pending.
This tragedy reverberated throughout all Northern California communities last summer. Hundreds of fires sparked by early summer lightning storms caused fires to rage throughout the region for the entire season. We were extremely grateful for all those fire crews and fighters that came to our aid from surrounding communities and states. The brave firefighters that lost their lives on that ridge will not be forgotten. Thank you again to those that answered the call, and may God Bless you all!