Saturday, May 23, 2015

Yeager Airport (KCRW) sues 20 companies over landslide

Yeager Airport is suing 20 companies involved with the design and construction of its runway extension project, which collapsed in a massive landslide in March, alleging negligence and breach of contract and seeking to recover millions of dollars in compensation and punitive damages.

The airport filed suit Friday against Triad Engineering, the firm that designed the man-made hillside that supported the runway extension, and Cast & Baker, the contractor that led construction on the project.

The airport also sued a Pennsylvania-based blasting company, a Dunbar-based paving company, the companies that designed and installed the EMAS blocks used on the runway extension, the company that makes the geo-synthetic mesh that held the hillside together and a Pennsylvania-based quality-control company that also were involved in the project.

Also included in the lawsuit are the airport’s two insurance companies, AIG Aerospace and New Hampshire Insurance Co., and the insurers of every company involved with the runway extension project.

The airport alleges that the runway extension and the man-made hillside that supported it were improperly designed, improperly tested, not properly inspected and not properly monitored.

After years of slight shifts, the hillside, which was completed in 2007, collapsed in March, destroying homes and a church on Keystone Drive, in Charleston, and forcing the evacuation of more than 100 people.

“The event in question is of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the absence of negligence,” Yeager’s attorneys write in the lawsuit, filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court. “The work and services provided by defendants was not performed with ordinary skill, care or diligence.”

The airport hired lawyers from three local firms, Scott Segal, Timothy Bailey and Anthony Majestro, to file the lawsuit jointly on its behalf.

The lawsuit says airport personnel noticed separation in the EMAS blocks on July 28, 2013, although there were related problems going back to at least 2010. The airport says it immediately contacted Triad and Cast after noticing the separation, but the two firms said they did not think there was a problem.

“In fact, defendant Triad informed the [Airport] Authority that settlement of as much as 24 inches was within normal range,” the lawsuit states.

As the blocks continued to separate, the airport and Triad each conducted monitoring and surveying.

The airport held an emergency board meeting on March 11, the day before the slide, at which, the lawsuit alleges, a Triad representative said the chances of a hillside collapse were “very slight.”

“Less than 24 hours after being told the chances of a catastrophic failure were slight, the Runway 5 EMAS . . . catastrophically failed, sending hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of fill and other material cascading down,” the lawsuit states. “The damages suffered by the residents of Keystone Drive and the Authority total in the millions of dollars.”

Majestro said attorneys filed the lawsuit Friday because a law that takes effect Tuesday will make it more difficult for plaintiffs to collect damages when some liable defendants don’t have the ability to pay.

“The airport is anxious to have this dispute resolved because they want the runway fixed and the landowners below them, whose properties were destroyed, taken care of,” Majestro said.

Circuit clerks around the state were sent a letter early Friday warning them about the possibility of an unusually large number of filings throughout the day because of the new law (HB2002).

Matt Arrowood, director of circuit clerk services for the West Virginia Supreme Court, wrote the letter after attorneys raised concerns about possible long lines at the time courthouses are set to close.

“Administrative Director of the Courts Steve Canterbury has advised that all people who wish to file and who are in line at the close of business at your office should be considered as having filed on Friday in a timely manner — even if they have not reached your counter by the end of your business day,” Arrowood wrote.

Majestro, who also is president of the West Virginia Association of Justice, spoke out against changing the law during the legislative session.

“In my opinion, it doesn’t apply to conduct that occurred prior to Tuesday,” he said. “However, if you’ve got a case ready to file, we’ve advised attorneys to go ahead and file it. That way they don’t have to worry about that argument.”

The lawsuit filed by Yeager has been assigned to Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman.

- Source:

Deputies locate pilot whose plane cut power lines; sheriff says Jeff Driscoll was not pilot and plane was not crop duster

Bingham County, Idaho 

The Bingham County Sheriff's Office has located the pilot whose plane severed power lines Friday morning in the Aberdeen-Springfield area, causing more than 1,000 Idaho Power customers to lose power in southwestern Bingham County.

The plane did not crash but continued flying and left the area after slicing through the power lines, authorities said.

The Bingham County Sheriff’s Office said the pilot of the plane was not Jeff Driscoll.

The Sheriff's Office said Saturday that its reports to the media Friday that the plane involved was a crop duster were incorrect.

Driscoll said he is the only individual who flies a crop duster in southwestern Bingham County and he was not piloting the aircraft that cut the power lines in the Aberdeen-Springfield area. He also said the plane that did the damage was not a crop duster.

Bingham County deputies located the pilot Friday afternoon whose plane severed the power lines. 

Sheriff Craig Rowland said the pilot has not been charged or taken into custody but his name has been forwarded to the Federal Aviation Administration. 

The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the incident and determine if the pilot should face any penalties for his actions.

Rowland said the name of the pilot is not being released pending the FAA's judgment on the incident.

Reports indicate that power was restored to everyone in southwestern Bingham County by early Friday evening.


BR LEGEND LLC Turbine Legend, N42BR: Fatal accident occurred May 23, 2015 near Columbia Metropolitan Airport (KCAE), Columbia, South Carolina

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration/Flight Standards District Office; West Columbia, South Carolina
GE Aviation; Lynn, Massachusetts 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 


NTSB Identification: ERA15FA221
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 23, 2015 in West Columbia, SC
Aircraft: BR LEGEND LLC TURBINE LEGEND, registration: N42BR
Injuries: 1 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 May 23, 2015, about 0921 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur built BR Legend LLC Turbine Legend, N42BR, registered to BR Legend LLC, operated by a private individual, collided with trees and a pond approximately 1.2 nautical miles west of the Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE), West Columbia, South Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight from CAE to Asheville Regional Airport (AVL), Asheville, North Carolina. The airplane was destroyed and the commercial pilot and a dog were fatally injured. The flight originated from CAE about 0914.

According to preliminary air traffic control information, after takeoff the flight proceeded in a northwesterly direction while climbing, until about 0917:36, at which time a change to a westerly heading occurred. The airplane continued on the westerly heading while climbing until about 0917:57, and about two seconds later while flying about 6,775 feet mean sea level in contact with the Radar North controller, the pilot declared a mayday indicating that he, "…lost ah my engine." The radar depicted the airplane turning to a southerly heading while descending. The controller asked on the frequency what aircraft was declaring an emergency, to which pilot replied with the partial call sign that he was "trying to make it back to the field." The controller advised the pilot to enter left base for runway 11, provided the altimeter setting and indicated the wind was calm. Coordination between the Radar North and local controllers occurred, and about 0918:45, the Radar North controller advised the pilot that CAE was at his ten to nine o'clock position and 6 miles, and asked him if he had the airport in sight, but he did not reply. About 0918:54, the Radar North controller inquired on the frequency, "and uh 42BR Columbia" to which he replied, "Roger I have it in sight I think I can make it." At about 0919:05, the pilot advised the controller that he, "…lost my fuel pressure."

Radar data depicted the airplane continuing in a southerly direction towards CAE while descending, and according to several witnesses immediately adjacent to the accident site, no engine sound was heard. While near Old Barnwell Road, the airplane was observed banking to the left followed by collision with a tree. The airplane then impacted a pond immediately adjacent to the tree coming to rest inverted.

COLUMBIA - Robert "Bob" Rowland Russell Jr., 85, chairman of the board of Russell & Jeffcoat Real Estate, of Columbia, passed away on the morning of May 23, 2015. In Bob's true spirit of living life to the fullest, he perished doing what he loved most in the world, flying.

He was born on Feb. 15, 1930, in Florida, to the late Robert Rowland Sr. and Mary Rogers Russell. Raised in Columbia, Bob attended Columbia High School. For Bob, flying was many things: a dream, a pastime, a service to his country, a performance, and a true love. As a teenager in Columbia, he flew gasoline models, dreaming of the day he would fly real planes. His dreams came when he was a sophomore at Clemson University. He organized and served as the first president of the Clemson Aero Club, where he soloed in a Piper Cub and accumulated his first 400 flight hours. In 1952, he graduated from Clemson with a degree in industrial education and his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. Immediately after graduation, Russell entered military flight training and received his jet pilot wings in July 1953. During his Air Force service, he attended all-weather fighter school at Moody Air Force Base and served in Labrador during the Korean War. After his discharge, he joined the South Carolina Air National Guard, serving overseas in Spain during an international crisis. He flew F-94s, F-80s, F-86s, F-104s and F102s, which contributed substantially to his total of more than 8,000 flight hours. "Touching the Face of God," which was published in 1992, was a book written by Bob about his love of the sky. Bob performed as stunt pilot in many airshows across the country. Bob's love for his country and people led him to service in many areas of the community. He was the chairman of the Association of U.S. Army in 2002, Executive Committee of the Celebration Freedom Foundation from 2000-2008, chairman of the Salvation Army for Columbia 1999-2002, and Advisory Board for the Salvation Army from 1982 to 2002. Russell had been honored over the years in several ways, including: Aviation Hall of Fame in 2003; Who's Who in American Aviation in 1975; Outstanding Americans in the South in 1970 and 1971; and received the Exceptional Service Medal in 1962.

People often described Bob as a true Renaissance man. He graced the stage as an actor in many local theater productions at the Towne Theater; was an excellent piano player; was a former member of the Palmetto Mastersingers; and an avid golfer who regularly shot in the 70s and made five holes-in-one during his lifetime.

Perhaps more than anything, it was Bob's endeavor into the real estate industry that created a legacy fitting of the true legend that we was. On April 1st, 1965. Bob opened the doors on a great adventure when he started Bob Russell Realty. With only one agent, Bob used his determination to succeed as a businessman, and succeed he did. Six months into his new business, he hired the late Abb Jeffcoat. The two would become great friends and eventually partners, forming Russell & Jeffcoat Real Estate. Over the past 50 years of doing business in the Midland's of South Carolina, Russell & Jeffcoat Real Estate has grown into the premier company in the area. As the number one real estate company in the Midlands, Russell & Jeffcoat boasts more than 450 agents and 12 offices. As titan in the real estate industry, Bob served as president of the Columbia Realtors Association in 1973; a member of Committee 100; president of the Sales & Marketing Council for the HBA; the president of the CMLS; and recently received a lifetime achievement award form the HBA's Sales and Marketing Council. Bob's way of doing business has been the vision and direction for the company for many years; his way is with integrity in everything that he did, on the golf course, in the sky or in the board room. Caring about people, serving people of the community was the focus of Bob's life. In 1996, Bob, along with Abb, was awarded the Order of the Palmetto in honor of their service to the community.

Bob was joined in passing by his beloved four-legged friend, Rambo, who will also be deeply missed.

He was predeceased by his first wife and mother of his two children, June Rodgers Russell.

Surviving are his wife, Patricia Cooper Russell; children, "Rip" Robert Rowland Russell III and Rebecca Rene Russell; stepchildren, Sloane Ellis, Sarah Cooper, and Tricia Harris. He was known as "Grand Bob" to two step-grandchildren, Cooper Ellis and Riley Ellis.

A private burial service will be held for family members at Greenlawn Memorial Park, followed by a public service for Robert "Bob" Russell to be held at 2:30 p.m. today at Shandon Presbyterian Church, 607 Woodrow St., Columbia, SC 29205.

The family will receive friends immediately following the service.

Dunbar Funeral Home, Devine Street Chapel, is assisting the family.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Salvation Army and Clemson University.

Russell & Jeffcoat Real Estate founder Bob Russell in his office earlier this month.

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC – Officials with the Lexington County Coroner’s Office have identified the pilot who died in the plane crash early Saturday morning.

Robert “Bob” R. Russell Jr., of Russell & Jeffcoat Realtors in Columbia, was killed in the small private plane that crashed into the pond after taking off from Columbia Metropolitan Airport toward Asheville Saturday morning.

Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher positively identified the pilot as 85-year-old Russell of Columbia.

Earlier, the single-engine plane was in the process of being removed from a pond on private property on Collumwood Circle, off Old Barnwell Road, near West Columbia. Officials have indefinitely blocked off Old Barnwell Road at both ends of Collumwood Circle, which loops off Old Barnwell.

The crash site is near the Pine Grove Softball Complex, which is where emergency officials held a midday press conference.

They said they got their information from officials in the tower at Columbia Metropolitan, not from witnesses.

The plane took off at 9:15 a.m., according to airport spokeswoman Kaela Harmon. At 9:20 a.m., the airport’s public safety department received an alert of the plane’s possible engine failure and was on stand-by.

Shortly afterward, the tower lost contact, Harmon said.

The airport is functioning as usual, officials said.

Lexington County Administrator Joe Mergo was at the press conference. Officials from the county fire, EMS and sheriff departments have been part of the early investigation, Mergo said. State health officials were also there but saw no public health threat, officials said.

Airport officials were joined by the Federal Aviation Administration. The National Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation and is expected to provide more information later.

Lexington County’s Firestation 19 is nearby, and there are many small ponds in the area.