The AP reports that Greg Brophy, Sean Brophy and Tom Beatty were killed near the Royal Wolf Lodge in Katmai national Park and Preserve on Sunday. Their float plane, a Helio Courier H-295, was returning to Royal Wolf Lodge when it crashed into trees Sunday near Nonvianuk Lake. The pilot was also killed.
The plane was apparently owned by CDM, Inc. (Branham Adventures) of Anchorage and leased to the lodge. Though it is unclear who was piloting the plane, it crashed in tree-covered terrain about a quarter mile from the lake. There were no survivors.
The Brophy and Beatty families need to know the following Alaska law to help them evaluate claims arising from this wreck:
1. Cooperate with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Investigation. It will help determine who was at fault for this crash. If the NTSB determines that the crash was caused by “Pilot error” – you should immediately contact an attorney;
2. Alaska allows claims for Wrongful Death. Alaska Statutes AS 09.55.570 and AS 09.55.580 provide that claims may be brought against a person/entity who negligently causes the death of another person. These claims are usually very large. It appears that Royal Wolf Lodges was a luxury establishment. It undoubtedly has significant insurance that should cover a tragedy such as this;
3. The Statute of Limitations in Alaska for Wrongful Death claims is two years from the loss. It is thus extremely important that you pay close attention to this deadline. If you delay past the two year deadline, you will lose valuable legal rights, including the right to be compensated for your loss.
4. Alaska has had a rash of small claim crashes this summer. There is something very wrong with lodges like this and their choices of pilots. Speaking with long-time Alaskan pilots, it turns out that pilots who are familiar with planes like this Helio Courier are quite rare – and they don’t like being pushed. At the same time, high-priced lodges need to make all of their money in Alaska’s short summer months. These lodges tend to push their pilots to fly in sub-optimal weather conditions … and we end up having more and more crashes like this. Ultimate liability may be rooted with Royal Wolf Lodge and/or CDM, Inc.
The Brophy and Beatty families are in our prayers. Again, call an attorney ASAP.
For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Airline, Cruise, Bus and Other Mass Transit.