Recent Developments

Speiser Krause in the News and Recent Developments

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

MID-AIR COLLISION NEAR SOLDOTNA, ALASKA

The partners at Speiser Krause, including a former Naval aviator, are closely monitoring the mid- air collision that occurred near the Soldotna Airport located in Soldotna, Alaska that tragically killed 7 people on Friday, July 31, 2020. Our firm has significant experience representing victims of mid-air collisions and are presently representing victims from a recent Alaskan mid-air collision that took place near Ketchikan, Alaska on May 13, 2019. We have also been involved in numerous other cases arising from mid-air collisions, including the mid-air collision over the Hudson River, in New York in August 2009.

The mid-air collision involved a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver aircraft and a single engine Piper PA 12 aircraft. The de Havilland Beaver floatplane is widely used in Alaska and is the same model aircraft that was involved in the mid-air collision near Ketchikan in May 2019. Six people were aboard the de Havilland Beaver including the pilot, 4 tourists from South Carolina (including two brothers and their respective spouse and fiancé) and a tour guide. The pilot of the Piper aircraft, who was an Alaska State legislator, was the sole occupant on board at the time of the collision.

The de Havilland Beaver was owned by Soldotna Aircraft & Equipment Leasing LLC and operated by High Adventure Air Charter located in Soldotna, Alaska. The aircraft was piloted by Greg Bell, part owner of the family-run tour guide operator. It is believed that the purpose of the trip was a Alaskan sightseeing trip for the two young couples. Weather was reported to be clear, and it is presently unknown what caused the collision. According to preliminary reports, the Piper took off from the Soldotna Airport shortly before the collision. The de Havilland Beaver took off slightly northeast of the airport from Longmere Lake and it was intended to land in the waters of the Cook Inlet. Preliminary analysis indicates that the collision took place at approximately 8:30 a.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board will conduct an extensive investigation including examining the wreckage to determine the manner of impact between the two aircraft. It is also expected that the NTSB will perform a cockpit visibility study to help determine what each pilot was able to observe from the cockpit in the moments leading to the collision. Each pilot has an absolute duty to “see and avoid” all other aircraft, and the cockpit visibility study will provide significant insight as to what each pilot was able to observe prior to the collision.

We will closely monitor the investigation and will provide additional updates as more information becomes available.


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