Jury Rejects Negligence Claims Against Air Rescue Firm in Fatal Accident

A federal jury has rejected negligence and warranty claims against an air rescue company that was sued by the family of a Delaware firefighter who died after falling from a helicopter during a training exercise.

The jury ruled on August 19 that the family of Lewes firefighter Timothy McClanahan failed to show that Arizona-based Priority 1 Air Rescue was negligent in providing a hoist operator tether that McClanahan was using at the time of the accident and failing to warn of a hazard associated with its use.

The jury also rejected the family’s claim that Priority 1 breached an express or implied warranty in providing the tether.

The lawsuit alleged that Priority 1 supplied a tether with a non-locking connector that became disengaged from McClanahan’s safety harness, and that such non-locking connectors are not meant to be used for air rescue operations.

McClanahan, 46, was participating in a training exercise near Georgetown on July 11, 2016, when he stepped out onto the helicopter’s skid and fell about 100 feet to his death.

The defendants argued that McClanahan was negligent because he failed to double check that his tether was connected to the aircraft just before stepping out onto the skid.