Saturday, July 12, 2014

US family files lawsuit over Swiss balloon crash: Cameron Z-120, HB-QOW

Malibu's billionaire founders sue hot air balloon pilot for $53.8 MILLION for killing heir in crash as 'drunk' pilot faces manslaughter charges
  • Pilot Christian Dupuy, 65, had a blood alcohol level above the Swiss legal limit and thereby was responsible for the crash, claims the lawsuit 
  • Dupuy faces manslaughter charges 
  • Family is also suing Gstaad's Grand Hotel park and two travel agencies 
  • Grant Adamson, 55, died at the scene when the balloon crashed in town of Montbovon after colliding with power lines 
  • His wife, Terry, and daughters, Megan and Lauren, sustained life-threatening injuries 
  • Mr Adamson was descendant of the Rindge family that donated 132 acres of land that later became Malibu 
  • Adamsons have close ties to Pepperdine University and donated land to the college

A $53.8 million lawsuit was filed last week in Los Angeles over the hot air-balloon that killed Grant Adamson of Malibu and injured his wife and three daughters while they were vacationing in Switzerland.

Adamson and his wife Terry along with his daughters Megan and Lauren were terribly injured in the crash in the mountain region of Gstaad where the family were vacationing.

The Local reports that the lawsuit claims that the pilot of the balloon, Christian Dupuy, 65, had a blood alcohol level above the Swiss legal limit and thereby was responsible for the crash.

Dupuy survived the crash and now faces charges for manslaughter.

The lawsuit also blames the travel agencies Protravel International and Bucher Travel along with Gstaad's Grand Hotel park for negligence.

The pilot faces charges for manslaughter and a pretrial hearing in the US is scheduled for October 20.

Grant Adamson, who was killed in the balloon crash, was a Pepperdine University supporter and descendant of a founding family of Malibu.

Following the crash in August, Pepperdine Vice Dean Shelley Saxer said the school is deeply saddened by Adamson's passing at age 55, and the serious injuries sustained by his wife, Terry, and their daughters, Lauren and Megan.

Swiss police said the hot air balloon carrying Adamson and family crashed into an electric power line while trying to land after a two-hour flight Tuesday morning.

The balloon fell 165 feet in the crash. Local officials are investigating the incident.

Grant Adamson, 55, was a founding member of Pepperdine's Crest Advisory Board, a community support group, and Terry Adamson was a distinguished jurist in residence at the law school.

Their daughters, aged 20 and 24 at the time of the crash, are students at the school.

Lauren and Megan Adamson underwent surgeries for unspecified life-threatening injuries and are now recovering. Their mother suffered internal injuries and is currently on a ventilator.

Swiss police said Mr Adamson, 55, died at the scene. His family were airlifted to a hospital.

The Malibu Times reported that Grant Adamson owned the Mariposa Land Company, which managed the real estate holdings that have been in the family for over a century, and he was a founding member of Pepperdine University’s Crest Board.

Terry Adamson had served as a commissioner at the Malibu Courthouse for nearly two decades until her retirement in 2007. She also worked as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine School of Law.

The family lives in a well-appointed home in the exclusive gated community of Serra Retreat in the hills of lower Malibu Canyon.

Mr Adamson was a descendant of the founding family of Malibu. In 1892, his great-grandparents Frederick and May Knight Rindge purchased the land upon which the city was built.

‘This family owned Malibu,’ resident Andy Stern told NBC Los Angeles. ‘They owned the entire city.’
Combing the scene: Swiss police officers inspect the gondola of the hot air balloon after it hit power lines and crashed

‘If there were royalty in Malibu, it would be the Adamsons,’ Malibu Mayor Joan House told the station.

Grant and Terry met in 1977 while attending the University of California, and they were married for 29 years.

Neighbor Jeff Follert, who has lived near the Adamsons for more than a dozen years, described the patriarch of the influential family as a soft-spoken, loving man who was very close to his wife and daughters.

The family, which traveled often together, had chartered the hot air balloon Tuesday for a day of sightseeing in Chateau-d'Oex - an area known as the ballooning capitol of the world.

The craft took off from the Grand Hotel and came down in the hill town of Montbovon after colliding with electric power lines and plummeting 165 feet to earth.

Medics rushed to the scene but were unable to resuscitate Mr Adamson, while his wife and two daughters were taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Police are now investigating whether pilot error could be blamed for the crash, which happened at 8.35am after a two-hour flight.

The 65-year-old pilot also was seriously injured and was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Grant Adamson came from one of the most prominent families in the state and resided in the same area where his great-grandparents built a life for themselves more than a century ago.

Frederick and May Knight Rindge bought a 13,330-acre tract of land in 1892, where they built their dream home: Rancho Malibu - a working cattle and grain-growing ranch.

When Mrs Knight Rindge lost her husband in 1905, she continued running the family business and spent nearly two decades fighting the state in court to protect her property and keep it private.

Using a loophole, the tenacious widow managed to outsmart a major railroad company seeking to build tracks across her land by starting her own small railroad. But Mrs Rindge was unable to stop the state from constructing two public highways.

The enterprising woman fought to preserve and increase her family's assets, starting Malibu Potteries to boost revenue and make tiles for two homes she was building at the time.

Rindge's ventures fell on hard times during the Great Depression, and by the time May Knight Rindge died in 1941, her land was in insolvency.

Story and Photos:

Grant Adamson killed in Swiss hot air balloon crash, family injured

US family files lawsuit over Swiss balloon crash

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