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HOUSTON: Daniel Laird Killed In Helicopter Crash At The Sam Houston National Forest


Apr 4, 2019

Daniel Laird Houston: California Forest Service Firefighter Daniel J. Laird, 41, From Yuba City Died In Helicopter Crash At The Sam Houston National Forest

HOUSTON TEXAS, CALIFORNIA (March 29, 2019) – A 41-year-old California Forest Service Firefighter was tragically killed in a helicopter crash that left two people injured in the Sam Houston National Forest.

Daniel Laird was a helitack captain from the Tahoe National Forest. Forest Service Firefighter identified as Kelly Callahen and 50-year-old pilot Morgan Kozloski were injured in the crash. 

Bulldozers and other heavy equipment were brought into the crash site so that rescue agents could make it to the victims. A picture of the crash site shows the helicopter with extensive damage.

Daniel Laird was pronounced dead at the scene. Kelly Callahen and Morgan Kozloski were both taken to the hospital in order to receive treatment. 

The FAA and NTSB are continuing to investigate the source of the crash. It happened during a controlled burn of the area. 

Causes of Helicopter Crashes

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), “The U.S. helicopter accident rate and the fatal helicopter accident rate have fallen for the third consecutive year.” FAA officials have attributed this success to a number of proactive measures including:

  • Creating a culture of safety
  • Cutting red tape by streamlining the process for operators and manufacturers to install new safety equipment. 
  • New technology to track (latitude, longitude, altitude) as well as a helicopter’s position
  • Collaborative rule making

However, accidents still occur causing numerous injuries and deaths every year. Most accidents fall into three categories:

  • Pilot error
  • Safety violations
  • System failure

System failures include engine failure, gear box fires, tail rotor blade breakage and pitch control failure. Depending on the facts of any case there may be multiple sources of liability for a helicopter crash. 

Liability In Helicopter Crashes

Whenever a California worker is killed on the job their family is typically protected through a number of laws. According to the California Department of Industrial Relations Workers Compensation Guidebook, a worker’s employer must provide death benefits to the deceased worker’s next of kin. What a number of victims and their families don’t realize is that the worker’s compensation system is not their only option after an accident. 

A victim’s family may also be able to seek justice through a third-party-liability claim. In short, if an entity separate from a worker’s employer caused the accident they could be held liable. There are an abundance of potential sources of third-party-negligence for a helicopter crash. For example, if a company failed to perform adequate maintenance to keep a helicopter working properly they may face civil liability. A helicopter manufacturer may face civil liability for a crash if it was caused by a design defect. 

Determining liability in a helicopter crash can take many months if not years. Families that have lost a loved one due to a faulty helicopter may be able to seek justice through California’s Code of Civil Procedure 377.60. A personal injury attorney can investigate all aspects of your case free of cost and let you know what your options are. An attorney can take steps to make sure that key pieces of evidence are being preserved and that your rights are being protected.

Investigating A Helicopter Crash

We at West Coast Trial Lawyers extend our deepest condolences to the family of Daniel Laird as they are going through such a difficult time. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what went wrong. Unfortunately, the past cannot be undone but measures can be put in place to help prevent similar tragedies in the future. Any witnesses that may have seen what happened should come forward as the investigation continues. 

Have you or someone that you love been involved in a helicopter crash? You may have legal recourse. Our team of personal injury attorneys are here to answer any legal questions that you have. We care deeply about making sure that families get the answers that they deserve after an accident. Whether you just have questions about your rights or need more information about a particular incident we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (888) 888-9285.

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