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Tue, May 21, 2013

Knox County Maine Get Notice Of Third Lawsuit Stemming From Airplane Accident

Three Young Men Fatally Injured In Nov. 16 Accident

The family of the pilot of a Cessna 172 who was fatally injured when the airplane impacted a truck crossing an active runway and went down has notified Knox County, ME, that they intend to file a lawsuit against the county. Two passengers were also fatally injured.

The accident occurred at Knox County Regional Airport (KRKD) in Rockland, ME at 1645 EDT on November 16th, 2012. According to the NTSB's preliminary report, driver of the truck said he was driving his private vehicle on the taxiway and had followed another aircraft out to taxiway "alpha." The other airplane continued down taxiway "delta" and he proceeded with his vehicle to the hold short line of the runway. He announced his intentions on the common traffic advisory frequency using a radio in his vehicle, heard no response nor saw anything on the runway, and he proceeded to cross runway 31. He subsequently saw something grayish in color, continued to cross the runway, and then got out to inspect what he saw at which time he observed an airplane attempting to climb. He continued watching the airplane drift to the left of the runway and make a left turn as if attempting to return to the airport. Subsequently, the airplane was then observed in "slow flight" and then it began to "spin."

The Bangor Daily News reports that, in the suit filed by the estate of pilot David Cheney, Knox County was accused of being negligent for allowing the truck to cross the airport property with "inadequate lighting" and other defects not specified. The suit also claims that the county failed to adopt and enforce proper safety rules for operation and maintenance at the airport, and did not properly design, construct, use and manage the airport. Similar claims had previously been filed by the families of the two passengers on board the airplane.

Cheney was a recent University of Maine graduate. The two passengers were students at UMaine, and  Cheney's fraternity brothers.

In the aftermath of the accident, Knox County has voted to build a gravel road on the airport grounds opposite the terminal building to cut down on the number of vehicles crossing the runway. The county will also install a system that will record radio traffic at the airport, as well as buy equipment that will record departures and arrivals at the uncontrolled field.

The notice to file a lawsuit is required before such an action can occur. The party intending to file a suit has up to two years to do so under Maine law.

FMI: www.knoxcountymaine.gov

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