The pilot of a helicopter that went down in New York City's East River is being sued by the parents of one of the crash victims. In addition to the pilot, the lawsuit also names Liberty Helicopters and other operators, claiming negligence on their part.
Five people were killed after a chartered helicopter experienced engine failure over the East River on Sunday. Officials say the passengers drowned after the crash when they were unable to remove their harness and became trapped in the helicopter which had flipped over and submerged. Because the doors had been open to allow passengers get better photos during their flight, the helicopter quickly filled up with water and began to sink.
The helicopter's pilot, Richard Vance, was the sole survivor of the crash after he managed to free himself from his harness and was rescued by first-responders.
Officials identified the five passengers as Daniel Thompson and Tristian Hill, 29, both from New York; Carla Vallejo-Blanco, 29, of Argentina; Brian McDaniel, 26, a firefighter from Dallas and Trevor Cadigan, 26.
According to ABC News which obtained a copy of the lawsuit, Nancy and Jerry Cadigan (parents of Trevor Cadigan) allege that the pilot failed to give the passengers an adequate safety briefing and that he was careless in failing to take reasonable steps to get his passengers out after "he secured his own release."
The suit also names FlyNYON, a helicopter company, and NYONAir, an aviation services company which help operate the chartered flights. The companies have also been accused of negligence and for failing to implement a policy that led to the deaths of the passengers.
The Cadigans also accuse FlyNYON and NYONAir of being "negligent in that their policy of so-called helicopter 'doors-off' photo flights is inordinately dangerous and risky and should only be permitted for professional photographers in special situations and not for amateur tourist photographers."
Officials say Vance told investigators that the engine failure was caused by a passenger's harness that somehow got wrapped around a emergency fuel-shut-off switch, which inadvertently cut off the aircraft's fuel supply.
In a statement released by Liberty Helicopters on Monday, the company pledged to assist the NTSB with its investigation.
"We are focused on supporting the families affected by this tragic accident and on fully cooperating with the FAA and the NTSB investigations. These agencies have asked us to respect the investigative process by referring all press inquiries to them for any further comment."