The widow of an Army specialist who died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Maryland last year and two other servicemen who were critically injured in the same crash are suing Sikorsky Aircraft and its parent company Lockheed Martin, alleging a defect in the helicopter’s tail rotor caused the aircraft to spin out of control and plummet to the ground.
Spc. Jeremy Tomlin, 22, of Chapel Hill, Tennessee, was killed in the Black Hawk UH-60 helicopter crash. Capt. Terikazu Onoda, the pilot, and Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Nicholas were critically injured and continue to suffer from permanent physical and psychological injuries, the lawsuit claims, according to the Associated Press.
The three soldiers, who were stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, were on an April 17 training mission. About 22 minutes into their flight, the Black Hawk helicopter began to vibrate violently. According to the lawsuit, the crew radioed that there was a tail rotor malfunction and that they were going to attempt a landing.
After the call, the tail rotor gearbox separated from the helicopter, causing it to spin out of control. The Black Hawk crashed into some trees on a golf course in Leonardtown, Maryland, about 60 miles southeast of Washington DC.
The plaintiffs filed the wrongful death and product liability lawsuit against Black Hawk manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in a Hartford, Connecticut state court. Sikorsky is headquartered in Connecticut.
“The men and women in the Armed Forces deserve equipment that meets the highest standards of safety and reliability,” said a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, according to the AP.
“Selling aircraft to the military knowing it could be defective and dangerous is a serious breach of the public trust,” the lawyer added. “While no legal remedy will ever undo the harm caused by this senseless tragedy, justice for our clients will hopefully deter this type of negligent behavior in the future.”