Product Liability

California utility company settles with victims of deadly helicopter crash

The families of three California Fish and Game employees who were killed last year when their helicopter struck a power line and crashed have reached a settlement for an undisclosed sum with Southern California Edison, the owner of the power line.

According to the Fresno Bee, Thursday’s agreement follows an earlier settlement between the victims’ families and Landells Aviation of Desert Hot Springs, Calif., the helicopter’s owner, for $10 million. All three men were from Fresno. The family of the helicopter pilot, a resident of Palm Springs who was also killed in the crash, settled with Southern California Edison on Wednesday.

The state fish and game employees killed were biologists who were conducting an aerial survey of the deer population near Redinger Lake in eastern Madera County. The helicopter struck a thin grounding wire that extended from a bigger power line, crashed to the ground, and caught fire in a mountainous area.

An attorney for the plaintiffs told the Fresno Bee that the line “was a disaster waiting to happen,” adding that the families insisted the line be marked as part of their agreement with the power company. The plaintiffs argued that aerial traffic in the area where the crash occurred had increased steadily since the lines went up several years ago, but that the power company made no safety enhancements to the lines despite the growing air traffic.

According to the Fresno Bee, the families of the victims originally filed separate lawsuits against Southern California Edison and Landells Aviation, but the suits were consolidated before the Superior Court in Los Angeles, where the utility company is based.


The Fresno Bee