Crash survivor, victims' families sue


— The lone survivor of a Yampa Valley Air Ambulance crash and the families of two people killed have filed a personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit against Mountain Flight Service, which provided the plane and pilot.

Tim Baldwin and the families of Dave Linner and Jennifer Wells filed the civil complaint Aug. 16 in Carbon County District Court in Wyoming.

"Our position is that is was a situation where there were very adverse conditions, and there was not a need to put these people's lives at risk," said Rick Eddington, a Steamboat Springs attorney representing Baldwin and Laurel Linner.

The plane's pilot, Tim Benway, also died in the crash.

A National Transportation Safety Board report about the crash notes that, at the time of the accident, Mountain Flight Service did not have a formal risk-management program in place to help the pilot and company assess risk on medical flights.

In interviews with investigators, Mountain Flight Service owners Bob and Cindy Maddox said they considered a pilot's decision-making skills in the hiring process, according to the report.

They also enforced a policy that all three crewmembers had to agree to fly for the mission to proceed.

David McGovern, a Los Angeles attorney representing Mountain Flight Service, declined to comment about the report or lawsuit. The Maddoxes also were advised not to comment.

A trial venue has not been decided.

The plaintiffs filed the suit in Carbon County because of the availability of witnesses there, including search and rescue personnel as well as residents familiar with the topography of the area, Eddington said.

McGovern and Mountain Flight Service have requested the case be moved to Colorado.

A hearing for a judge to decide the matter has yet been scheduled.

"It's a tragic situation for all involved," Eddington said. "My clients as well as the Wellses are close to the Maddoxes -- they are not trying to hurt them.

"Hopefully the insurance company will come forth and get this case settled to protect the interests of the families."


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