A Connecticut family is suing American Airlines, South Carolina’s Columbia Metropolitan Airport, and others for negligence in making passengers disembark an airplane onto the tarmac during a severe thunderstorm last June, leading to the lightning-strike death of a family member.
Sonya Dockett, 52, was struck by lightning as she was walking with her husband and two children across the tarmac at Columbia Metropolitan Airport on June 27, 2015.
Her flight from Hartford’s Bradley International Airport to Charlotte, N.C., had been diverted to Columbia due to severe weather.
The lighnting strike “caused Ms. Dockett severe injuries, including electrocution, which caused her to collapse to the ground in an unconscious state,” court documents state. Ms. Dockett suffered from cardiac arrest and was treated for burn injuries at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga.
She died on Aug. 5, 2015, “from the injuries she sustained as a result of the Defendants’ negligence,” the family’s lawsuit alleges.
According to the complaint, passengers of the US Airways (now American Airlines) flight began deplaning about 5:52 p.m. despite the National Weather Service in Columbia issuing a severe thunderstorm warning for the area at 5:42 p.m. and lightning strikes occurring with 15 miles of the airport at 5:36 p.m.
“Defendants neither notified Ms. Dockett of the imminent danger of severe lightning and thunderstorms in the area, nor did they take any steps to ensure the reasonable safety of the passengers or Ms. Dockett,” the lawsuit asserts. “Ms. Dockett came to her untimely death as a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ negligent, grossly negligent, willful, wanton, and reckless conduct or failure.”
The complaint says that Ms. Dockett’s husband, daughter, and son continue to receive counseling for emotional trauma that has taken an adverse toll on their lives.
According to Columbia’s WISTV 10, Ms. Dockett’s obituary says that she was a successful attorney who resigned in 2009 to “devote her energies to her family and her philanthropic passions.”
Source: WISTV Columbia, S.C.