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Family Files Lawsuit over Fatal SkyLife 4 Medical Helicopter Crash


Fresno, California – December 28, 2016 – – Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman has filed a medical helicopter crash lawsuit on behalf of the mother and father of a substitute teacher who was killed during an air ambulance helicopter accident. The lawsuit alleges Fresno-based Rogers Helicopters Inc. was negligent in the operation and maintenance of the downed helicopter known as SkyLife 4 (N408FC).

The wrongful death lawsuit (case #16CECG04138) was filed today in Fresno County Superior Court on behalf of Kathryn Ann Brown’s parents, Linda Knuckles and David Barrows.

Kathy Brown was a devoted substitute teacher who worked for the Porterville Unified School District. She earned a Master’s degree in Education/Elementary Teacher Education from Phoenix University and had plans to begin working on her Doctorate in teaching.

On Dec. 10, 2015, while teaching at Sunnyside Elementary School, Ms. Brown was taken by ambulance to Sierra View Medical Center in Porterville after experiencing head, shoulder, and arm pain. Although the doctors preferred to keep her for treatment and observation, out of an abundance of caution, arrangements were made for her to be transported by air ambulance to San Joaquin Community Hospital in Bakersfield.

The Bell 407 helicopter operated by Rogers Helicopters, DBA SkyLife, was sent from Visalia to Porterville to pick up Ms. Brown for transport. At approximately 6:51 p.m., the flight crew notified dispatchers that the helicopter departed from Porterville and was heading to its destination 50 miles away.

Less than 20 minutes after departure, the Bell helicopter crashed into terrain roughly nine miles east of McFarland. Weather reports at the time of the crash showed dense fog and heavy rain in the area.

Kathy Brown was killed in the crash, along with pilot Thomas Hampl, flight paramedic Kyle Juarez and critical care nurse Marco Lopez. Ms. Brown was 40 years old at the time of her death.

According to the allegations of the medical helicopter crash lawsuit, Rogers Helicopters negligently, recklessly and carelessly operated and maintained the air ambulance that crashed into terrain. As a proximate result of the company’s conduct, Ms. Brown suffered severe physical injuries and psychological pain and suffering prior to her death.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the crash.

“It is tragic that a precautionary medical flight such as this, ended with the loss of so many lives,” says aviation attorney Timothy A. Loranger, who is representing the family. “A thorough investigation and understanding of the circumstances should result in increased safety for future patients and crew of med-flight helicopters.”

The wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for medical bills, funeral costs, and damages suffered by Ms. Brown’s parents for the loss of their daughter’s service, love, companionship, comfort, affection, society, solace, and moral support.

About Kathy Brown

Katheryn Ann Brown was born on August 27, 1975, at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico. At the time of her death, she was forty years old and residing in Springville, California with her partner Ronald Cates. She was the beloved daughter of Linda Knuckles and David Barrows.

As a devoted substitute teacher for Porterville Unified School District, Kathy treated her students as if they were her own children. She found incredible fulfillment in teaching and had a heart for special needs students. She loved animals and frequently took in rescue dogs and cats. In her spare time, Kathy enjoyed spending time with her animals and listening to country music. Her main passion, however, was teaching.

According to the District Superintendent, Kathy was “very well-liked and reliable.” Debbie Rodriguez, secretary of the Woodville Union Elementary School District described Kathy as “very personable, polite and well mannered.”

Kathy preferred to teach at schools with students who experienced the same kind of socio-economic background and disabilities she had as a child. She was deaf in her right ear and suffered hearing loss in her left ear, which was believed to be a result of the use of forceps during her birth. Her childhood was filled with surgeries and hospital stays to try to improve her hearing, all to no avail. She was proficient in sign language and was very passionate about helping deaf children.

As a devout Christian, Kathy had a strong faith and belief in God. She never used profanity, read her Bible faithfully, and taught sign language to the children at the church she attended. Her parents were both very proud of her and admired her determination and compassion.

About the Aviation Attorneys at Baum Hedlund

Baum Hedlund has handled cases involving over 650 passengers and crew injured or killed in aviation accidents, including helicopter crashes across the U.S. and abroad. These helicopter crashes have involved general negligence or product liability claims against the helicopter owners and operators, as well as helicopter manufacturers.

Our firm has litigated against Aerospatiale, Airbus Helicopters, Bell Helicopter Textron, Boeing, Eurocopter, Hughes Helicopters, L-3 Communications, McDonnell Douglas, MD Helicopters, Messerschmitt-Bolkow Blohm, Robinson Helicopters, and Sikorsky.



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