The parents of a man killed in a Grand Canyon helicopter tour crash last month are suing the tour operator and several individuals connected to the company over his death.
Plaintiffs Phillip and Marlene Udall of Southampton, U.K. filed the wrongful death lawsuit in Nevada, seeking compensatory damages for the death of their 31-year-old son Jonathan Udall.
Jonathan had gone to Las Vegas on honeymoon with his bride Ellie Milward. Both Jonathan and Ellie suffered severe burn injuries after the Airbus EC130 B4 helicopter operated by Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters crashed on Hualapai tribal land and exploded. The fiery crash occurred in the Quartermaster Canyon in the western stretch of the Grand Canyon.
Jonathan and Ellie initially survived the crash but died in Las Vegas days later from complications related to their burn injuries.
They were joined on the trip by their friends Becky Dobson, her boyfriend Stuart Hill, his brother Jason Hill, and friend Jennifer Barham.
Ms. Barham, 29, is the only surviving passenger. She remains hospitalized in Las Vegas recovering from burns and other crash injuries. Her condition improved from critical to fair earlier in March.
The helicopter’s pilot, Scott Booth, 42, also survived the crash and remains hospitalized with burn injuries.
According to the Evening Standard, Phillip and Marlene Udall claim their son would not have sustained “severe and catastrophic” burn injuries had Papillon equipped the helicopter with a safer, crash-resistant fuel system designed to prevent explosions and fires.
“If this helicopter had been properly equipped with a crash-resistant fuel system, it would have allowed this young man to walk away injury-free,” the Udalls’ lawyer told the Evening Standard.
After the Grand Canyon helicopter crash, Papillon confirmed it was equipping 40 of its touring helicopters with crash-resistant tanks, a measure that will help spare others from a fiery death in the event of a crash, but a move that the Udalls’ lawyer called “too little, too late” for Jonathan and Ellie and their friends.
In addition to Papillon, the Udalls are suing Papillon chiefs Brenda and Elling Halvorson, company president Geoff Edlund, chief operating officer John Becker, mechanic Matthew Hecker, and inspector Daniel Friedman.