Monday, March 2, 2015

Family of plane crash victim dismisses pre-lawsuit cause of action against plane's owner, other defendants: Cessna 172R Skyhawk, T & G Flying Club, Inc., N4207P, fatal accident occurred August 25, 2014 in Willoughby Hills, Ohio

The family of a man killed in a Willoughby Hills plane crash has voluntarily dismissed paperwork for a potential lawsuit against the plane’s owner, the pilot’s flying club and a fraternity.

However, the dismissal does not rule out a lawsuit being filed at a later date.

Abraham Pishevar II, 18, of Rockville, Maryland, was one of four young men killed in an Aug. 25 crash minutes after a Cessna Model 172R took off from Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights.

On Sept. 9, Pishevar’s estate filed a petition for discovery in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to gather all pertinent information for a potential civil lawsuit.

The other victims included pilot Michael Felton, 20, of Saginaw, Michigan; Lucas Vincent Marcelli, 20, of Massillon; and John Hill, 18, of St. Simons, Georgia. All four were students at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Named in the petition are T&G Flying Club, where Felton rented the aircraft; Zeta Beta Tau, Lambda Chapter at CWRU and the national Zeta Beta Tau Foundation; and Willoughby resident Laurence Rohl, the registered owner of the plane.

The estate’s attorney, Jordan Lebovitz, said he dismissed the petition Feb. 25 after receiving documentation from T&G Flying Club.

“We have been working with T&G to find out if there are any more culpable individuals,” Lebovitz said. “The next step is to evaluate the information. We are working to determine the cause of the crash, and are waiting for the final report from the National Transportation Safety Board.”

The attorney added that he wanted to show Judge Hollie L. Gallagher that the estate and T&G are working together. However, the dismissal is “not a final resolution to the dispute,” he said.

The petition has been dismissed without prejudice, meaning it can be refiled in the future.

Each side was ordered to pay their own final court costs.

Elizabeth Deemer, Pittsburgh-based attorney for T&G and the other defendants, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The petition sought documents describing the operation, maintenance, and storage of the Cessna from Rohl. 

It also raised questions as to whether the flight was somehow involved in fraternity rush or recruitment activities.

Felton’s private pilot license was issued Aug. 8, 2013, in Michigan.

Editor's note: This story was edited at 9:48 a.m. March 2, 2015, to correct that Michael Felton received his pilot's license in Michigan and rented the aircraft from T&G Flying Club.

Story and photo:

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA453
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 25, 2014 in Willoughby Hills, OH
Aircraft: CESSNA 172R, registration: N4207P
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 25, 2014, at 2158 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172R airplane, N4207P, collided with the terrain in Willoughby Hills, Ohio, following a loss of control shortly after takeoff from the Cuyahoga County Airport (CGF). The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged by impact and a post impact fire. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by T & G Flying Club, Inc. The pilot rented the airplane and was flying it on a personal flight under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight which was not operating on a flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident. 

The pilot reserved the airplane from T&G Flying Club, at 2022 using an online reservation system. He reserved the airplane for 4 hours, beginning at 2030. The employees of the flying club had left for the evening by time the pilot and passengers arrived.

Two witnesses, stated that shortly after 2100, they saw 4 males walk across the ramp toward the tie-down area near hangar 7. One of the males had a carry-on type suitcase. The pilot and passengers then boarded a Cessna 172. One of the witnesses stated the airplane stayed on the ramp for about 30 minutes with the engine running. They did not see the airplane after this time.

At 2146, the pilot called ground control for a takeoff taxi clearance stating he was on the ramp south of the T&G Flight Club. The controller issued the pilot a clearance to taxi to runway 6 via the Alpha 7 taxiway to the Alpha taxiway. The controller also issued the wind condition as 140 degrees at 8 knots along with the altimeter setting. The pilot stated his radio was a little "fuzzy" and he asked the controller to repeat the clearance. The controller repeated the taxi clearance, which the pilot subsequently repeated. About 4 minutes later, the controller informed the pilot that he is taxiing to the wrong runway. After asking the controller to repeat what he said, the pilot stated "Thank you I'm sorry." The controller then issued taxi instructions back to the approach end of runway 6.

At 2156, the pilot radioed that he was ready to takeoff on runway 6. The controller asked the pilot what his direction of flight was going to be. The pilot responded that they were going to fly east to sightsee and that they would be back in a little while. The controller issued the takeoff clearance with a right turn after takeoff. At 2158, the pilot radioed that they were not climbing fast and they wanted to immediately make a left turn to turn around. The controller approved the left turn. The controller stated it appeared the airplane began a left turn when it descended to the ground. The controller reported that during the takeoff, the airplane became airborne about 100 feet past taxiway Alpha 6, which was approximately 2,000 feet down the runway.

The airplane impacted the ground, a chain link fence, a guy wire, and a telephone pole prior to coming to rest about 1,000 feet on a bearing of 20 degrees from the departure end of runway 6. This location is just north of the intersection of Bishop Road and Curtiss Wright Parkway. 

The wreckage path was along a 210 degree heading. The left wing tip, including the position light, was embedded in the ground at the first impact mark. This mark was east of the chain link fence. The airplane then traveled through the fence, with the left wing contacting one of the fence posts. The main impact crater was in the west side of the fence. Adjacent to the crater were two slash marks in the soft ground. Both marks were about 12 inches long. One of the slash marks was about 7 inches deep and the other was about 4 inches deep. The airplane came to rest on a heading of about 160 degrees with the left wing against the telephone pole. A postimpact fire ensued.