B-17 Crash

Lawsuits Filed Over Fatal B-17 Crash at Bradley Airport

NBC Universal, Inc.

Two lawsuits were filed Tuesday against the operator of a vintage aircraft that crashed at Bradley Aiport on October 2, 2019, killing seven people and injuring seven others.

The WWII-era B-17 crashed minutes after taking off from Bradley Airport and trying to return to the runway after the pilot reported experiencing in issue with one of the engines.

The plane was at Bradley Airport for the "Wings of Freedom Tour" sponsored by the Collings Foundation.

In the first lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim Collings did not have the "resources to monitor and inspect Collings flight operations on a regular ongoing basis and ignored promises the foundation made to the Federal Aviation Administration. The lawsuit claims negligence on the part of the Collings Foundation resulted in the deaths and permanent and emotional injuries to the passengers who survived.

The lawsuit alleges that several passengers sat on the floor of the plane's fuselage, rather than in approved seats and that they were never given instructions on how to use the old, military-style seatbelts.

One passenger, the suit alleges, had a seatbelt that didn't work and he was completely unrestrained at the time of the crash.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight of the 10 passengers who were on board the flight. Those passengers include 59-year-old Robert Riddell of East Granby, 64-year-old Robert Rubner of Tolland, 48-year-old James Roberts of Ludlow, Mass., who were all killed in the crash.

Passengers who survived who are also plaintiffs are Joseph Huber of Tarriffville, Thomas Schmidt, and Linda Schmidt both of Suffield, James Traficante of Simsbury, and Andrew Barrett of South Hadley, Mass.

Two passengers who died in the crash, 66-year-old Gary Mazzone of Broad Brook, and 56-year-old David Broderick of West Springfield, Mass., are not listed as part of the first lawsuit.

The family of Gary Mazzone filed a second lawsuit with similar claims.

The pilot, 75-year-old Ernest McCauley of Long Beach Calif., and 71-year-old Michael Foster of Jacksonville, FL, were also killed in the crash.

A third crew member on the plane and an airport worker on the ground were also injured.

The Collings Foundation provided the following statement in response to questions for comment about the lawsuit:

"In order to obtain technical experience and expertise, the National Transportation Safety Board made The Collings Foundation a party to the pending accident investigation.  In that role, the Foundation is prohibited, both by the Certification of Party Representative and by federal regulations, from commenting on this matter and disseminating information that is the subject of this investigation."

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