Deadly Bell 407 Medevac Helicopter Crash in McFarland, California
The NTSB is investigating the December 10, 2015, crash of a medevac helicopter in McFarland, California. The aircraft was transporting an injured patient to San Joaquin Memorial Hospital in Bakersfield at approximately 7:00 p.m when it impacted hilly terrain. All on board, including the pilot, flight nurse, flight paramedic, and patient were killed.
The aircraft, a Bell 407 helicopter, identification number N408FC, was manufactured in 2000 and is owned by American Airborne EMS. The operator of the aircraft was SkyLife Air Ambulance, a partnership between American Ambulance and Roger’s Helicopters, both of Fresno, California.
Who knows more about aviation law than attorneys who are also licensed, commercial pilots?
Kreindler Partners and Former Military Pilots (L-R):
Justin Green (USMC)
Brian Alexander (U.S. Army)
Dan Rose (U.S. Navy)
We Know, We Fly
Our staff of attorneys includes five pilots and one former aviation maintenance specialist (who is also a graduate of the NTSB accident investigation course). In each case, we assemble a team of litigators, investigators, outside experts, and staff to meticulously examine and prepare all aspects of our claim’s liability and damages to determine the cause of the accident. We identify responsible entities, present the strongest case, and obtain the highest possible compensatory award for the plaintiffs we represent.
Preliminary Investigation and Possible Causes
The NTSB reports that visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the crash and that a company visual flight rules plan was filed for the flight. Witnesses, however, reported heavy rain and dense fog in the area at the time of the crash. No distress call was ever issued by the flight crew.
Citing the dangerous frequency with which emergency helicopter operators send aircraft into deteriorating weather at nighttime, the NTSB has placed “Enhancing Public Helicopter Safety” on its “Most Wanted” safety improvements list.
Although the present crash involved a privately operated helicopter, the same concerns are present here because the helicopter was providing emergency medical services.
Indeed, once predominately public, the medevac industry is now made up largely of for-profit companies. These companies have large capital investments and are often paid based on the number of flights they complete. This puts pressure on pilots and operators to complete flights despite the presence of potentially fatal risks.
Partner and former military helicopter pilot Justin Green has written about the need for more safety accountability in the medevac industry.
Green has also litigated against medevac operators in helicopter crash cases. Such cases are factually and legally complex. Air crashes frequently involve multiple, complex causes and several responsible parties. Legal obstacles potentially limiting recovery, such as worker compensation statutes, statutes of repose, and third-party claims, add to the intricacy of such cases.
We wrote the book
Kreindler has literally written the book on aviation accident law. Our partners have authored numerous highly acclaimed books, articles and treatises, including the leading treatise in the aviation litigation field, Aviation Accident Law.
Call on Our Experience
Kreindler is one of the largest and most distinguished aviation accident law firms in the world. Since 1950, our attorneys have served as lead counsel in nearly every major commercial aviation disaster litigation. Our staff of attorneys includes four commercially licensed helicopter pilots and one former helicopter maintenance specialist (who is also a graduate of the NTSB accident investigation course). The firm has successfully handled countless private, charter, military, general aviation and helicopter accident cases. Our partners have authored numerous highly acclaimed books, articles, and treatises on aviation litigation.
Photo Credit: Bell 407 helicopter Tony Hisgett