A lawsuit stemming from the catastrophic October 15, 2008, crash of an Air Angels EMS Helicopter near Aurora, Ill., was filed January 6, 2009, on behalf of Robert and Brooke Blockinger, who suffered the tragic loss of their 14-month-old daughter, Kirstin Reann Blockinger.
Kirstin Reann Blockinger was one of four individuals killed when the emergency medical evacuation helicopter bound for Children’s Memorial Hospital hit a radio tower and its supporting structure and crashed in the Chicago suburb of Aurora.
The EMS helicopter, which belonged to Air Angels Inc., was carrying a three-person crew which included a pilot, a nurse and a paramedic, all of whom were employed by Air Angels Inc. Kirstin Reann Blockinger was being transported to Children’s Memorial for the purpose of receiving treatment for a medical emergency.
The crash of this Medical Services (EMS) Bell 222 Helicopter was the latest in a tragic wave of EMS helicopter accidents last year. The families of the four victims join dozens of others who mourn the loss of loved ones who have been killed in EMS helicopters in the past months. Despite the long list of recent tragedies, there has been no change to the rules governing EMS safety—rules which are known to be flawed and insufficient.
“What makes this accident even worse is that it was preventable,” said aviation attorney Donald J. Nolan. “In February of 2006, the NTSB made safety recommendations which were largely ignored. Our hope is that this lawsuit will draw attention to this issue and help bring about industry change.”
Named in the suit are Air Angels Inc., Reach Medical Holdings Inc., and Richard D. Hoffman, as personal representative of the estate of Delbert Lee Waugh.
The complaint was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County and alleges that Kirstin Reann Blockinger’s untimely death was caused as a direct and proximate result of the defendant’s breach of duty of care.
The lawsuit also asserts that the defendants were responsible for exercising the highest degree of care in the operation, maintenance, possession and control of the subject helicopter so as not to cause injury and further specifies the following acts or omissions by defendants:
- Negligently and carelessly failed to require and provide two pilots for operation of subject flight
- Negligently and carelessly failed to equip the subject helicopter with a proper and adequate Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TWAS)
- Negligently and carelessly failed to provide proper and adequate time and information to the pilot for flight planning
- Negligently and carelessly failed to keep sage and proper separation between the subject helicopter and existing tower hazard
- Negligently and carelessly failed to provide proper and adequate flight following measures
- Negligently and carelessly operated, controlled and equipped and maintained the subject helicopter in particulars to be determined through the course of discovery
Robert Blockinger and Brooke Blockinger have been appointed co-special administrators to their daughter’s estate and, as such, are seeking personal and pecuniary damages, including but not limited to, loss of society, love and companionship for the loss of their daughter in a sum in excess of the minimal jurisdictional limits of the Cook County Circuit Court.
In early February of 2009, there will be public hearings regarding the safety of EMS helicopter operations. Nolan Law Group and the Blockingers are planning to attend.
Nolan Law Group is a Chicago-based personal injury law firm concentrating in aviation accidents, construction accidents, brain injury litigation, medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, and trucking accidents.