Airplane and helicopter pilot and attorney Jimmy Anderson of Krutch Lindell spoke to King 5 News late in the evening on Sunday, September 4, 2022, after a Northwest Seaplanes de Havilland DHC-3 “Otter” floatplane, registration N725TH, crashed while enroute from Friday Harbor, Washington, to Renton. Sadly, at the time, one victim had been recovered, deceased, and the other passengers were still missing, along with the wreckage.
The lawyers at Krutch Lindell have been investigating and litigating aviation accident cases and advocating for passenger safety for nearly 70 years, including numerous floatplane accident cases, both in the Pacific Northwest, and internationally.
Unfortunately, commercial floatplane crashes in the Costal Pacific Region are common. Some of these include:
- In November 2009 a de Havilland Beaver floatplane operated by Seair Seaplanes stalled and crashed after takeoff from Lyall harbor on Saturna Island, British Columbia, killing six. Investigation found that the stall warning system had been modified so as not to provide an audible stall warning.
- On June 25, 2015, N270PA, a de Havilland Otter floatplane operated by Promech Air crashed into a mountain near Ketchikan Alaska after flying into poor weather/visibility conditions which obscured the rising terrain. The eight passengers, who were Holland America Line cruise passengers docked at Ketchikan, were all killed. In addition to the pilot, the NTSB blamed the floatplane tour operator for its deficient safety culture which tacitly endorsed flying in hazardous weather and failed to manage the risks associated with the competitive pressures affecting area air tour operators. Contributing factors in this crash included economic pressure on the floatplane operator to make it back in time for the passengers to reboard the ship prior to departure time.
- On September 30, 2016, a DHC-2 beaver operated by Kenmore Air crashed into the water in the San Juan Islands. The crash was caused by the pilot losing situational awareness and crashing into the ocean.
- On July 10, 2018, N3952B, a de Havilland Otter floatplane operated by Taquan Air crashed into the side of a mountain in an area known as Jumbo Mountain. The floatplane was chartered by Steamboat Bay Fishing Club to transport customers from its remote location to Ketchikan, 80 miles away. Several of the passengers were seriously injured, but fortunately there were no fatalities. The crash was again caused by flying in poor weather/visibility conditions that obscured rising terrain and was the result of dangerous decisions by the pilot a poor safety culture by the operator.
- On May 20, 2019 another de Haviland Beaver float plane operated by Taquan Air crashed on landing in Metlakatla harbor, South of Ketchikan, while flying to Ketchikan killing both people on board. The NTSB found that that Taquan Air’s inadequate operational controls resulted in their improper assignment of an insufficiently experienced pilot to a commuter seaplane flight.
- On July 26, 2019 a Seair Seaplanes flight carrying passengers from Vancouver to a remote Fishing Lodge on Hecate Island off the British Columbia coast crashed into the mountainous terrain of an island along the route after the operator and its pilot decided to proceed with a chartered flight with poor and deteriorating weather/visibility conditions along the route. The resulting crash into weather-obscured terrain killed three passengers and the pilot, and seriously injured the remaining five passengers.
All of the attorneys at our firm have substantial experience handling these types of cases. We have represented and are currently representing clients in several of the above crashes. We understand the safety issues that remain problematic in this industry and we know how to litigate against these companies.
Floatplane accidents require a different investigation and analysis than the standard airplane crashes. As Jimmy Anderson discussed with the reporter, floatplane crashes in cold water raise questions of survivability due to the mechanics of the crash itself and the environment. An introduction to these factors is discussed here: https://www.krutchlindell.com/2019/10/23/cold-water-survivability-and-aviation-crashes-introduction. A more detailed analysis of initial impact survivability factors is discussed here: https://www.krutchlindell.com/2019/10/23/cold-water-survivability-and-aviation-crashes-initial-impact-survivability, and an analysis of trauma an immersion is discussed here: https://www.krutchlindell.com/2020/01/20/cold-water-survivability-and-aviation-crashes-trauma-and-immersion
The attorneys at Krutch Lindell will continue to investigate this accident, and can be reached at (206) 682-1505.
The King 5 story is below:
In addition to two Coast Guard cutters and one helicopter on scene, marines units also responded from South Whidbey Fire, North Whidbey Fire, Kitsap County Fire, and Everett Fire.