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Fatal plane crash lawsuit settled, investigation ends

By Joe Beck

A $60 million lawsuit linked to a helicopter-airplane collision in which an Edinburg man died has been settled.

The victims, Jason Long, 32, and a 19-year-old passenger, Jacob Houston Kiser, of Grottoes, were killed when their Cessna Long and an AirCare 5 helicopter collided near Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport near Weyers Cave on New Year's Eve 2010.

The parents of Long and Kiser filed the lawsuit in June 2011. The settlement of the case means that a jury trial scheduled to begin next week in Augusta County Circuit Court has been canceled. Online court records indicate the case was settled in late November.

"I can confirm it's been settled," said Albert M. Orgain IV, a lawyer representing Paul Wayne Weve, the pilot of the helicopter and PHI Air Medical Inc. a Louisiana transportation company.

Orgain refused to disclose any details of the settlement. A phone call to the plaintiffs' attorney, W.F. Drewry Gallalee, was not returned.

Court records show a final order was entered on Nov. 26, the same date on which the National Transportation Safety Board issued its final report on an agency investigation into the crash.

The agency concluded the accident was caused by what it described as "the inherent limitations of the see-and-avoid concept, which made it difficult for the helicopter pilot to see the airplane before the collision."

Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the NTSB, said the agency's statement, formally described as a finding of probable cause, amounts to a final report on the accident.

"The see-and-avoid concept is a concept to ensure traffic separation," Weiss said.

The report also cited what it described as the "the airplane pilot's non-standard entry to the airport traffic pattern" as a contributing factor in the accident.

The report said Long's entry was "500 feet below the airport traffic pattern and in a direction that conflicted with the established flow of traffic."

The report called his actions "contrary to Federal Aviation Administration guidance."

Long, a 1997 graduate of Central High School in Woodstock, was a certified commercial pilot and flight instructor, according to records with the Federal Aviation Administration. He also compiled a stellar record as a distance runner while attending James Madison University.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com


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