COUNTY NEWS: Parents of Grand Canyon helicopter crash victim '˜file lawsuit'

The parents of a man from Sussex who died in the Grand Canyon helicopter crash have filed a lawsuit against the tour operator and the aircraft manufacturer, national media outlets are reporting.

Saturday, 3rd March 2018, 5:38 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 2:56 am
Candles lit for Jonathan and Ellie Udall, Becky Dobson, Stuart and Jason Hill, Jennifer Barham and pilot Scott Booth, those killed or injured in the Grand Canyon helicopter crash, at a prayer service in Worthing

Jonathan Udall, 32, from Brighton, and his wife Ellie, 29, both died from burns sustained in the crash on February 10. It also claimed the lives of Becky Dobson and brothers Stuart and Jason Hill, all from Worthing, who died at the scene.

The tour over the Grand Canyon was part of the couple’s honeymoon, and also to celebrate Stuart’s 30th birthday.

Media outlets in the UK and the US have reported that Mr Udall’s parents, Philip and Marlene Udall, from Southampton, have filed a lawsuit against tour operator Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters and manufacturer Airbus Helicopters.

According to the BBC, lawyers for the couple claim Papillon and Airbus Helicopters did not install a crash-resistant fuel tank to the aircraft, which they said could have saved their son’s life.

They are suing for £141,000 in damages, as well as punitive damages and a trial by jury.

Their lawyer, Gary Robb, said: “Mr and Mrs Udall deeply grieve for the loss of their son but their primary motivation now is to prevent anyone else from having to suffer the deadly burn injuries as their son did.”

Papillon said it would fit 40 crash-resistant tanks to its fleet after the tragedy – a gesture Mr Robb said was “too little, too late”, the BBC reported.

Among other individuals named in the lawsuit was pilot Scott Booth, who was injured in the crash and is accused of negligence for crashing, the BBC reported.

According to his website, US lawyer Gary Robb was described by Forbes magazine as ‘by far the most successful helicopter crash trial lawyer in the country’. He has reportedly obtained the two highest jury verdicts in US history for helicopter crash wrongful death for his clients – $350 million and $70 million.

Almost £24,000 had been raised for Mr and Mrs Udall on a JustGiving page before they passed away in hospital. Speaking before their deaths, Jonathan and Ellie’s families said they were ‘humbled’ by the support.

Jennifer Barham, 39, is the last surviving member of the holiday group. She was taken to hospital with critical injuries.

The families of Becky Dobson and Stuart and Jason Hill paid tribute to their loved ones. Click here to read Becky’s tribute, and here to read the tribute to Stuart and Jason.

The father of Stuart and Jason Hill thanked his son for their time together in an emotional prayer service held for all the victims. Click here to read more.