Allege Pilot Flew Erratically On June 2006 ROTC
The parents of a 15-year-old girl
who died in a June 2006 plane crash in Maine are suing the local
school system, and the fixed-base operator that employed the
Shannon Fortier was among four people onboard the Cessna 172
that impacted the western slope of Barker Mountain. She and two
other Lewiston High School students -- members of the school's Air
Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, participating in a
summer flight orientation program -- were killed in the accident,
along with the plane's pilot, 24-year-old William "Charlie"
John and Theresa Fortier filed a wrongful death suit this week,
reports The Central Maine Sun Journal. In the suit, the Fortiers
also state their daughter also suffered pre-death injuries, pain
and suffering, and terror in the June 22, 2006
The suit claims Twin Cities Air Services of Auburn, ME either
knowingly employed a pilot with a "history and reputation" of
unsafe flying, or that the company should have realized the pilot
displayed a "pattern of extreme and unsafe conduct."
Other cadets in the program who flew earlier that day told
officials just before the accident flight Weir had flown "in an
unsafe and reckless manner" on their flight, according to the
lawsuit. They describe a near-vertical climb 300 feet laterally
from the mountainside that resulted in an aerodynamic stall, with
recovery at about 75-100 feet above treetops.
The cadets also told of Weir's unusual recovery method,
described as a "zero-g maneuver, during which he pushed the
throttle to full, cut the fuel mixture to idle and caused the
aircraft to dive precipitously for five seconds before restoring
the fuel mixture."
In its Probable Cause report, the National Transportation Safety
Board determined Weir's failure to maintain adequate clearance from
terrain while maneuvering caused the accident, that also killed
students Nicholas Babcock, 17 and Teisha Loesberg, 16. The Board
also noted the cadet's reports of Weir's unsafe behavior prior to
the accident flight.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Twin Cities, and the
Lewiston school system.