A scathing statement released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board cites “a series of improper actions” by a Grant’s Pass, Oregon contractor leading up to a 2008 crash that killed nine firefighters in California. According to a report in The Oregonian, the NTSB’s chairwoman found some actions by the company, Carson Helicopters, “so distressing that the NTSB has alerted the Department of Transportation’s inspector general to investigate in more detail, looking for possible criminal wrongdoing.”
The NTSB statement (see link below) paints a devastating picture of corporate negligence and deception. Referring to Carson, whose helicopters were contracted out to the US Forest Service for firefighting purposes, the NTSB writes: “The contractor’s actions included the intentional alteration of weight documents and performance charts and the use of unapproved performance calculations.”
Though the NTSB also found fault with actions by both the Forest Service and the Federal Aviation Administration, “Carson’s actions were so egregious – so egregious – that they have to go first,” NTSB member Robert Sumwalt told The Oregonian.
When government investigators believe the evidence of wrongdoing to be so overwhelming, the question has to be asked: what is the best way for the victims families to obtain justice? Criminal sanctions may deter Carson or other companies from similar activity in the future, but they offer little to the families of the dead and the injured.
In the wake of the NTSB report a strong case can be made that the firefighters tragedy is grounds for an Oregon wrongful death action in civil court. Though the helicopter crash took place in California, the fact that Carson is an Oregon-based company means that the bereaved families would be well-advised to speak with an Oregon wrongful death attorney as they consider their options in the wake of this needless tragedy.