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Four killed in Ketchikan float plane accident. Get an Attorney ASAP.

The tragic floatplane accident in Ketchikan, where four people were killed and two injured, was caused by the plane striking a tree upon takeoff. The victims include 3-year-old Allison N. Smith, who remains in critical condition. Also, their grandmother, Mindy Mayer, 60, of Oregon City, was upgraded from serious to satisfactory condition. Mayer’s son, Eric M. Smith, 37; his wife, Christine L. Smith, 36; and their 3-year-old son, Trevor, all of Tualatin, were killed in the Thursday evening crash. Mayer’s husband, David R. Mayer, 60 and California resident Daniel J. Herron, 49, also were killed. Tour guide Sara J. Steffen, 27 was injured.

The pilot was Clifford S. Kamm, worked for Island Winds Air Service. The plane was operated by SeaWind Aviation. It was a 1959 de Havilland float-equipped Beaver.

The airplane sheared off the top of a tree 18 inches in diameter about 40 or 50 feet above the ground. The collision clipped one of the wings. The fuselage continued into the dense forest for about 50 feet before stopping. A fire caused so much damage to the body of the floatplane.

Paramedics arrived within 30 minutes and did all they could. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board’s Washington, D.C., and Anchorage offices is continuing.

The Smith, Mayer, Herron and Steffen families should: (1) cooperate with the NTSB; (2) immediately order a copy of the related report; and (3) make sure they mark their calendar for two years from the date of this tragedy. Under Alaskan law, you only have two years to either: (1) settle related claims; or (2) file a lawsuit. It is VERY important that these families take immediate action. Where a pilot hits a tree, it is almost always “Pilot Error” that caused the wreck. Under Alaskan law, if “Pilot Error” hurts or kills a person, that pilot and his/her employer are responsible for related losses/damages/claims. Pilots don’t hit trees unless they make mistakes. If a pilot hurts/kills a person because he/she makes a mistake, they should be held accountable.

These are very difficult cases. They require top-notch legal counsel to ensure that the insurance companies don’t play games. Find an attorney ASAP.

For more information on this subject matter, please review our section on Airline, Cruise, Bus, and Other Mass Transit Accidents.

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