The family of a Fresno paramedic who was killed in the Skylife air ambulance helicopter crash in Kern County has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Rogers Helicopters, claiming it was negligent in the maintenance and operation of the Bell 407 aircraft that crashed in a field nine miles east of McFarland last month.
The lawsuit was filed in Fresno County Superior Court this month because Rogers Helicopters is based in Fresno. The suit seeks money to pay for funeral and medical bills and unspecified damages for the wife and children of Kyle Juarez, 37, a flight and ground paramedic and nine-year veteran of American Ambulance who spent the last three years on the Skylife team.
Also killed in the Dec. 10 crash was pilot Thomas Hampl, 49, of Bend, Ore. and an employee of Rogers Helicopters; critical care nurse Marco Lopez, 42, of Hanford, a three-year SkyLife veteran; and the patient, Kathryn Ann Brown, 40, of Springville, who was employed as a substitute school teacher.
The cause of the crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
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Rogers Helicopter said Friday it would have no comment.
Authorities have said that the helicopter crew responded to Porterville to pick up Brown from Sierra View Medical Center for transport to San Joaquin Community Hospital in Bakersfield. At 6:52 p.m., the crew notified flight dispatch that the air ambulance was leaving Porterville.
About 7:05 p.m., dispatch tried to raise the helicopter for a routine check-in, but got no response. After checking with airport towers in Fresno and Bakersfield, the dispatch center notified Kern County authorities that the aircraft was missing and provided its last GPS reading east of McFarland.
A Kern County sheriff’s helicopter reported about 8:35 p.m. that it had found a debris field. Kern County deputies and fire crews, slowed by fog and darkness, reached the scene about 10 p.m. and confirmed that the patient and the crew of three had died.