Injured nurses file lawsuit over Colorado helicopter crash

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 31, 2015 6:52 PM

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - Two Colorado flight nurses critically injured in the fiery crash of a medical transport helicopter that killed the pilot earlier this month sued the aircraft's manufacturer and operator on Friday, court records showed.

David Repsher, 45, and Matthew Bowe, 32, were injured on July 3 when the Flight For Life helicopter they were aboard crashed on take-off from the St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, a mountain town about 70 miles west of Denver.

The pilot, Patrick Mahany, was killed in the crash.

The men had been en route to a public relations event at a Boy Scout camp and there were no patients on board.

Repsher is in critical condition at a Denver-area hospital with burns over 90 percent of his body, while Bowe suffered severe internal injuries and is permanently disabled, the pair's lawyer, Peter Rietz, said in a statement.

Named as defendants are the helicopter's operator, Air Methods Corp. of Englewood, Colorado, and the aircraft's manufacturer and distributor, Airbus Helicopters S.A.S. of France and Airbus Helicopters, Inc. of Grand Prairie, Texas.

The lawsuit, filed in Summit County District Court in Colorado, alleges that mechanics employed by Air Methods "failed to properly repair, maintain and inspect" the AS350-B3e helicopter, the complaint said.

The suit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, also alleges that the helicopter was designed and built by Airbus Helicopters, a unit of Airbus, with flaws to its tail rotor system which malfunctioned and made the aircraft "uncontrollable in the event of a failure, especially at low speeds, hover and/or liftoff."

Additionally, the aircraft was not "crashworthy" and its fuel tank ruptured and burst into flames when it struck the ground.

"David Repsher's body was on fire at the time he was extricating himself from the helicopter wreckage," the complaint said.

Air Methods did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for Airbus Helicopters said they had not seen the lawsuit and have no comment on it.

"Everyone at Airbus Helicopters Inc. is extremely saddened by this accident and our thoughts continue to be with the medical crew and their families and the pilot's family," the company said in a statement.

"We and our French affiliate, Airbus Helicopters, are actively cooperating with and assisting the National Transportation Safety Board in its investigation of the accident."

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler)