Our Panama City injury law firm team was saddened to hear about the tragic end to a flight that took off from Destin on Monday morning. The incident serves as a reminder of the fact that, though flying is often among the safest modes of transport, airplane crashes remain a very real danger.
As reported in The News Herald, the small plane took off from Destin carrying two Indiana couples home following a weekend visit to our region. Don Horan, 46, piloted the single-engine Piper airplane carrying his wife, Barbara, and friends Stephen and Denise Butz back to Greensburg. The accident claimed the lives of all four passengers. Six others who took part in the trip travelled home separately, arriving safely at a larger airport in Columbus. The Butzes and the Horans leave behind a total of six children.
Records indicate that conditions were foggy and misty at the time of the crash, which occurred a mere mile from the Greensburg Municipal Airport. A local news outlet reported that Horan was an instrument-rated pilot, which means he was licensed to fly in poor weather conditions. Runway lights at the Greensburg airport are pilot-controlled and radio-activated, but they were not on at the time of the crash. Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") report that the plane had been cleared to approach the airport but it never arrived for landing. The FAA had been tracking the plane but lost contact with the aircraft about two miles from the airport.
It appears that the plane crashed into a field and tumbled down a steep hill before coming to rest in a wooded area. A witness called the sheriff's department at 6:19 P.M. reporting a suspected plane crash. Weather made the search for the wreckage difficult, and the crash site was not found for approximately four hours. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived on site Monday.
Plane crashes can stem from a range of causes. Investigators and injury attorneys need to fully examine these potential causes in order to reach conclusions and represent their clients. Small plane crashes may be complicated by the fact that records may not be kept with the same level of attentiveness as is required for larger commercial carriers. However, small planes may be impacted by a higher number of take-offs and landings due to the shorter distances travelled in a typical flight. Factors that may contribute to any crash include structural/design defect, maintenance failures, air traffic safety controller actions, and pilot error. Environmental factors like poor weather conditions or bird strikes can also contribute to a crash.
As your Panama City aviation accident law firm, The Pittman Firm understands that protecting the rights of plane crash victims requires attention to both the law and the facts. We work with aviation experts who can help uncover the cause of a crash and can also help our legal team convey complex facts to a judge or jury. This includes interpreting NTSB reports as well as independently examining evidence. Our team can help victims make sense of a tragedy and recover compensation when negligence or malfeasance contributed to a crash.