Lawsuit Filed in Fatal Iowa Helicopter Crash

August 11, 2013

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in federal court by the family of an Iowa nurse who died with two others when a medical helicopter crashed earlier this year.

Shelly Lair-Langenbau’s family sued the air transport company that owned the helicopter and employed its pilot, the Mason City Globe Gazette reported Saturday. The lawsuit was initially filed in Cerro Gordo County District Court, but was moved this week to federal court.

The lawsuit claims Med-Trans Corp., a North Dakota-based company that operates its helicopter service out of Lewisville, Texas, is to blame for Lair-Langenbau’s death. The suit says the pilot, Gene Grell of San Antonio, took off in unsafe weather conditions.

Lair-Langenbau, Grell and paramedic Russell Piehl, of Forest City, all died when the helicopter crashed on Jan. 2 in a northern Iowa field. They were heading to pick up a patient in Emmetsburg, about 80 miles west of Mason City, when the aircraft slammed into the ground just north of Ventura.

A preliminary federal report suggested that icy conditions contributed to the crash.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Lair-Langenbau’s husband, Worth County Sheriff Jay Langenbau, their two children, and Lair-Langenbau’s parents, Gerald and Karen Lair. They have asked for a jury trial. A date has not been set.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in actual and punitive damages.

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