May 18, 2010
Four years ago, a group of Marines was practicing low-level flying techniques in a helicopter near Camp Pendleton, maneuvers used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The nighttime exercise ended tragically when a copter hit a utility tower and the crew perished in the crash.
The families of the Marines are now suing San Diego Gas & Electric, saying the company knew its towers and power lines were a danger to aircraft in the area and failed to install ball-shaped markers or safety lights to prevent collisions.
Because of that failure, SDG&E is responsible for the Marines’ deaths, an attorney representing the families said Tuesday in San Diego Superior Court.
“The tower was not lit,” Todd Macaluso told the jury on the first day of the civil trial. “It had no ball marker, and we’re going to prove that the tower could not be seen.”
Lawyers for the utility said the crash was not the result of any negligence by SDG&E, but instead was caused by pilot error.
“These pilots basically got lost and didn’t know where they were,” attorney Larry Davis said.
Family members of Capt. Adam E. Miller, 29; 1st Lt. Michael S. Lawlor, 26; Staff Sgt. Lori A. Privette, 27; and Cpl. Joshua D. Harris, 21, are seeking unspecified general, economic and punitive damages in the wrongful-death lawsuit, filed in July 2004.
Article: Sign On San Diego
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