Kreindler Sues Titanic Director's Production Company on Behalf of Helicopter Pilot's Family
Kreindler partners Dan Rose and Justin Green represented the family of Emmy award-winning cinematographer Mike deGruy following the crash of a Robinson R44 helicopter during the making of National Geographic’s television documentary, DeepSea Challenge. Mike deGruy and Australian television writer-producer (and pilot) Andrew Wight were killed as a result of the crash. They were working on the documentary which follows “Titanic” film director James Cameron as he leads an expedition to Challenger Deep, the deepest oceanic trench on Earth, located in the western Pacific ocean. The Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB), the equivalent of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the February 4, 2012 crash. According to the ATSB preliminary report, the crash occurred in eastern Australia shortly after takeoff from Jaspers Brush, near Nowra, which is 97 miles north of Sydney.
According to the ATSB the helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff. The helicopter appears to have experienced a loss of control from a hover position and crashed into terrain.
At the time, Kreindler research revealed that there had been nearly 25 airworthiness directives issued concerning the R44 helicopter, including a recent one concerning problems with the main rotor blade. Also, several accidents, including another recent R44 crash in Australia, were caused by a loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE). This aerodynamic phenomenon is common in smaller helicopters and our analysis of accident records reveals that the R44 is particularly susceptible to loss of helicopter control due to LTE.
The crash investigation revealed that seconds after liftoff, pilot Andrew Wright noticed that his side door was open and when he reached out to close the side door he lost control of the helicopter. The aircraft’s main rotor blades hit the ground, the helicopter’s aluminum fuel tanks ruptured and erupted in flames, tragically causing the deaths of Wright and deGruy. Post-crash fires like these are not unique and Robinson helicopters had previously established a history of the aluminum fuel tanks rupturing on impact and causing deadly post-crash fires.
Photo Credit: Robinson R44 helicopter, Ed Dunens