Lawsuit filed over plane crash that killed 8 off of NC coast

May 25, 2022, 8:55 AM | Updated: 5:04 pm
FILE - Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck speaks with reporters in Carteret County, N.C., on Monday, ...

FILE - Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck speaks with reporters in Carteret County, N.C., on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022. The families of four people - including three teens - who died in a February plane crash off the North Carolina coast are suing the companies that owned the plane and employed the pilot, who also died. The suit claims the pilot failed to properly fly the single-engine plane in weather conditions with limited visibility, making the firms liable. All eight people aboard the Pilatus PC-12/47 died when it descended into the Atlantic Ocean off the Outer Banks.(WCTI-TV via AP, File)

(WCTI-TV via AP, File)

The families of four people — including three teens — who died in a February plane crash off the North Carolina coast are suing the companies that owned the plane and employed the pilot, who also died. The suit claims the pilot failed to properly fly the single-engine plane in weather conditions with limited visibility, making the firms liable.

All eight people aboard the Pilatus PC-12/47 died when it descended into the Atlantic Ocean off the Outer Banks. Four teenagers and two adults on the plane were returning from a hunting trip. The two others were the pilot and his adult son, who was a student pilot, the suit said.

The wrongful death suit was filed Tuesday in Carteret County against EDP Management Group LLC and Green Assets, both of Wilmington, and Dillon’s Aviation of Greenville.

The plane took off Feb. 13 in the early afternoon from Hyde County Airport, which is on the mainland near the Pamlico Sound. The plane’s destination was southwest across the sound to Beaufort, which is along the southern edge of the Outer Banks in Carteret County.

The suit alleges that pilot Ernest “Teen” Rawls failed to maintain control over the plane and improperly flew into weather conditions with limited visibility that required the use of instrumentation.

The suit also asserts that Rawls failed to maintain adequate communication with air traffic control and failed to avoid restricted military airspace, “leading to an erratic and irregular flight path.”

The suit alleges that Rawls improperly relied on a co-pilot with “inadequate training and experience” to fly around the restricted airspace and in those weather conditions. Rawls’ son, Jeffrey Rawls, reportedly, had 20 hours of flight experience, the suit stated.

The suit also claims that Rawls failed to conduct a proper weight and balance evaluation before taking off.

The website for Green Assets listed Hunter Parks, one of the people who died in the crash, as its founder and chairman. His family is not among those who sued. A company spokesman released a statement that said it could not comment on the suit.

“There is not a day that goes by that we do not feel the sadness of this tragedy,” the statement said. “Our hearts remain with all families and friends who have been impacted by this incident. And because this is active litigation and that the facts of the incident are still unknown, we are unable to comment on the specifics of the complaint at this time.”

Email and phone messages seeking comment from Dillon’s Aviation and EDP Management Group were not immediately returned.

In late February, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary accident report that the pilot had made no distress calls and no declarations of an emergency.

The airplane had reached 4,700 feet (1,430 meters) and was climbing quickly, the NTSB’s report stated. There was no response to calls from an air traffic controller, and radar contact was lost.

A final report from the NTSB has not been issued.

Andrew Robb, a Kansas City-based aviation attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the four families, said by phone that the plane’s lack of distress calls and climbing altitude were hallmarks of a pilot becoming spatially disoriented.

“If there was a problem with the mechanics or the electronics or something on that airplane that caused this 3,000-foot ascent, you would think that the pilot would have made some kind of communication,” Robb said.

The lawsuit was filed by the families of passengers Noah Styron, 15; Michael Shepherd, 15; Jacob Taylor, 16; and Stephanie Fulcher, 42.

Others who were onboard included Parks, 45, and Jonathan Kole McInnis, 15.

Rawls and his son lived in Greenville, authorities said in February. Fulcher, Parks and the four teens lived in Carteret County. The mostly rural county is home to older fishing villages as well as touristy areas that include Emerald Isle and Cape Lookout National Seashore.

The four teenagers went to East Carteret High School, which has about 600 students.

Charlie Snow, a close friend of the pilot, told The Associated Press in February that Rawls had previously flown for Snow’s company, Outer Banks Airlines, and was highly trained and extremely capable.

“If anybody could get out of something, if it was possible to get out of it, he could have done it,” Snow said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks with reporters following a closed-door ...
Associated Press

Dems want to tax high earners to protect Medicare solvency

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats want to boost taxes on some high earners and use the money to extend the solvency of Medicare, the latest step in the party’s election-year attempt to craft a scaled-back version of the economic package that collapsed last year, Democratic aides told The Associated Press. Democrats expect to submit legislative […]
3 hours ago
FILE - An anti-Boris Johnson, anti-Brexit protester stands next to a placard across the street from...
Associated Press

From Brexit to Partygate, a timeline of Johnson’s career

LONDON (AP) — He was the mayor who basked in the glory of hosting the 2012 London Olympics, and the man who led the Conservatives to a thumping election victory on the back of his promise to “get Brexit done.” But Boris Johnson’s time as prime minister was marred by his handling of the coronavirus […]
3 hours ago
FILE - Flags of countries of the world hang over an empty Terminal E, at Logan Airport in Boston, S...
Associated Press

FAA to give airports $1 billion for terminals and upgrades

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is giving nearly $1 billion to 85 airports to expand and upgrade terminals and other facilities, using money approved in last year’s huge infrastructure bill. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the projects will help meet future demand for travel and make flying safer and more efficient. “I don’t think […]
3 hours ago
People run through the streets ahead of fighting bulls and steers during the first day of the runni...
Associated Press

1st bull run in Pamplona in 3 years takes place; no gorings

PAMPLONA, Spain (AP) — The first bull run in three years took place Thursday at the San Fermín festival in the Spanish city of Pamplona. No one was gored, but several runners took knocks and hard falls as tens of thousands people reveled in the return of one of Europe’s most famous traditional events. Six […]
3 hours ago
An elderly woman wearing a mask pushes her wheelchair past residents lined up for coronavirus testi...
Associated Press

Beijing mandates COVID vaccines to enter some public spaces

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The Chinese capital has issued a mandate requiring people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before they can enter some public spaces including gyms, museums and libraries, drawing concern from city residents over the sudden policy announcement and its impact on their daily lives. The health app that shows a person’s […]
3 hours ago
FILE - Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner during the first half of Game 2 of basketball's WNBA ...
Associated Press

Griner’s Moscow trial resumes amid calls for US to seek deal

MOSCOW (AP) — Jailed American basketball star Brittney Griner returns to a Russian court Thursday amid a growing chorus of calls for Washington to do more to secure her release nearly five months after she was arrested on drug charges. Griner was detained in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after vape canisters with cannabis oil […]
3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Lawsuit filed over plane crash that killed 8 off of NC coast