’02 chopper crash prompts lawsuit | ParkRecord.com

’02 chopper crash prompts lawsuit

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

A Summit County man filed a lawsuit last week against a helicopter-skiing outfitter in Park City.

The plaintiff in the case, Ray Santa Maria, seeks damages from Park City Helicopters and Pulsar Helicopters, Inc., for injuries he allegedly sustained in a helicopter crash near Oakley on March 26, 2002.

According to the lawsuit, helicopter pilot Ronald D. Nelson, who is also named as a defendant in the complaint, was flying Santa Maria in a helicopter to ski slopes in the backcountry of the Uinta Mountains near Oakley.

"[Nelson] landed the helicopter to pick up Ray Santa Maria and others," states a complaint filed March 22 in Silver Summit Third District Court. "As the aircraft lifted off, [Nelson] commented to Ray Santa Maria that he was only at [85 percent] power."

During the flight, the engine lost power and crashed into the ground, the lawsuit claims.

"The rotor blade hit the ground causing it to shear off and crash through the windshield," the lawsuit states. "Plexiglas and shrapnel flew throughout the helicopter cabin."

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The group survived the crash and was rescued from the mountain within two hours, the lawsuit states.

According to the complaint, Nelson failed to properly instruct the skiers how to use safety belts in the helicopter and operated the aircraft "outside its performance limitations."

"As a result of the pilot’s negligence, the helicopter crash-landed on or near the 9,400-foot level of the Uinta Mountains," the lawsuit states.

The defendants had not been served with the lawsuit this week.