Mom sues over tot’s death in Pa. helicopter crash

TUNKHANNOCK, Pa. (AP) — A Virginia woman sued Friday over a helicopter crash last month in northeastern Pennsylvania that killed her young son and four others, saying a charter company “negligently and recklessly” allowed a pilot to fly when he was not fully trained.

Crystal McKain of Leesburg, Va., filed the wrongful-death lawsuit in Wyoming County over the death of Noah McKain Woodland, 3.

She sued Hampton Roads Charter Service over what she called a lack of training for pilot David Jenny Jr., 30.

Jenny wasn’t certified for instrument-only flights and hadn’t gotten a weather briefing before the scheduled flight from Endicott, N.Y., to Lehighton, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The boy’s father, 29-year-old Carl Robert Woodland, of Lovettsville, Va., also died in the July 27 crash.

“This was a tragic helicopter crash because it was so utterly preventable,” said McKain’s lawyer, Gary Robb. “Given his limited training, this pilot never should have left the ground in these weather conditions, knowing that he was incapable of flying the helicopter in any kind of cloud cover.”

McKain is seeking more than $550,000 in damages. The charter company did not immediately return a call for comment Friday.

But Robinson Helicopter Co., the Torrance, Calif.-based company that owns the craft, has said it believes the helicopter was caught in a thunderstorm. The pilot had asked air traffic controllers in Wilkes-Barre to be directed to the nearest airport before experiencing problems and then losing communications, according to the NTSB report.

The county coroner’s office identified the other passengers as 58-year-old Bernard Michael Kelly, of Ellicott City, Md., and his daughter, Leanna Mee Kelly, 27, of Savage, Md.

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