Personal Injury

Wrongful Death Suit Claims Pilots Were Unfit to Fly

Cessna 340 349x210 Wrongful Death Suit Claims Pilots Were Unfit to FlyHuman error and negligence are the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the widow of a man who was killed when the private airplane he was a passenger in crashed after it nearly collided with another small plane just after takeoff from a Tampa airport.

Leann Carreno, whose husband Kevin Carreno was killed in the March 18 crash, filed the lawsuit in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, alleging that pilot Louis Caporicci was unfit to fly the twin-engine Cessna 340. Mr. Caporicci was Mr. Carreno’s friend and former U.S. Air Force Academy classmate.

The lawsuit also claims that David Lopez, who had just passed his private pilot certificate check ride, and his flight instructor, Dave Garner, were unfit to fly. The men had taken off in a single-engine Cessna 172 at the same time as the other plane. They were uninjured in the incident.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the crash and found both airplanes took off from Peter O. Knight Airport, a general aviation airfield with no operating control tower.

The airport has two runways that form an upside-down “V” and converge at the northern end. It was at that intersection that the near-collision occurred.

The Cessna 172 had just taken off when the Cessna 340 crossed just below it as it also took to the air. In an effort to avoid collision, Mr. Caporicci banked his airplane hard to the left. But while the Cessna 340 avoided striking the 172, the maneuver forced the 340 to stall. The aircraft then turned upside down and spiraled to the ground, killing both Mr. Carreno and Mr. Caporicci.

John Cox, a former U.S. Airways pilot and a former safety official at the Air Line Pilots Association, told the Tampa Bay Times that the NTSB report indicates that neither pilot realized the other was taking off.

“This is an issue with uncontrolled airports,” Mr. Cox told the Tampa Bay Times. “There are procedures in place that it sounds as if both followed, but for whatever reason, neither pilot understood another airplane was taking off on the intersecting runway. How the miscommunication occurred is something the investigators will look at,” Mr. Cox added. “I think that’s probably going to be the core of what they decide as far as probable cause.

Ms. Carreno also names Paul Gallizzi and Tampa Aviation Club Inc., the owners of the Cessna 172, and Ninerxray Inc., the owner of the Cessna 340, as defendants, claiming they’re also liable for her husband’s death.


Tampa Bay Times: Wrongful death suit filed in deadly airplane crash at Peter O. Knight Airport
Tampa Bay Times: NTSB issues preliminary report on fatal plane crash at Peter O. Knight Airport in March