Two more wrongful-death lawsuits have been filed in connection with a helicopter crash in South America that killed five Americans and two Peruvians two years ago.
The Jan. 7, 2013, crash occurred in eastern Peru. The lawsuits filed this week in Portland, Oregon, say that the helicopter – under contract for petroleum exploration – broke apart in flight for unknown reasons, and the lawsuits list defective components as a possible cause.
The families of six of the seven people who died have now filed suit against Columbia Helicopters, which is based 25 miles south of Portland. The total amount sought is now $110 million, The Oregonian newspaper reports.
An attorney representing Columbia Helicopters did not return a call for comment.
The lawsuits fault the companies that manufactured, owned and maintained the black Boeing-Vertol Model 234 chopper, a civilian version of a military Chinook helicopter with tandem rotors. Listed as defendants in some or all of the lawsuits are: Columbia Helicopters; Columbia Helicopters Leasing, which owned the aircraft; and the Boeing Co., which manufactured the aircraft.
The latest lawsuits were filed on behalf of the two Peruvians – co-pilot Igor Abelardo Castillo Chavez and aircraft mechanic Luis Alfredo Ramos Gonzalez.
The Americans killed in the crash were pilot Dann J. Immel of Gig Harbor, Washington; maintenance crew chief Edwin Cordova of Florida; aircraft mechanic Jaime Pickett of Tennessee; Leon Bradford of Utah; and Darrel Birkes, who was born in the Portland area but living in Peru.
Birkes worked as a master rigging coordinator, determining the correct loads for helicopters carrying equipment and people to oil and gas production sites. His estate is the only one that has not filed a lawsuit.
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