Mother of medevac crash victim sues FAA

An in-depth look at the events of the night of September 27th, 2008, when a Maryland State Police medical helicopter known as Trooper 2 crashed in Prince George's County. Video by Akira Hakuta
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 1, 2011; 7:40 PM

The mother of a teenager killed in the 2008 crash of a Maryland State Police medical helicopter has sued the Federal Aviation Administration, alleging air traffic controllers were negligent and inattentive and failed to guide the pilot to safety.

The lawsuit brought by Stephanie Younger and filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt follows four others filed since 2010 against the FAA in connection with the crash of the helicopter, known as Trooper 2.

The lone survivor of the crash and the families of a flight paramedic and emergency medical technician on board also have sued. The state of Maryland also filed suit.

Controller failures and lack of training are alleged in each of the suits, which note that the pilot received hours-old weather information on an increasingly foggy night and did not have competent guidance as he struggled to land.

Ashley Younger, 17, and Jordan Wells, then 18, were aboard after being picked up following a car accident in Waldorf. The medical helicopter team intended to land at Prince George's Hospital Center but diverted because of fog and crashed in District Heights just short of Andrews Air Force Base, where an ambulance was waiting.

Wells suffered major injuries but survived. Younger, the pilot, a state police paramedic and a volunteer medic all were killed.

Younger's mother made panicked calls to state police throughout the night trying to learn her daughter's fate, as heard on recordings obtained by The Washington Post as part of a 2009 series on safety problems in the medevac industry.

Younger's suit does not cite monetary damages. The other claims seek $50 million for Wells, $15 million in the death of flight paramedic Mickey Lippy and $7 million in the death of EMT Tonya Mallard. The state filed a $4 million suit.

Federal accident investigators have determined that the probable cause of the crash was the pilot's descending too quickly as he tried to get out of deteriorating weather. They also noted the outdated weather information relayed to him.

"Everyone aboard that helicopter, including Ashley Younger, relied upon air traffic controllers to provide accurate information and assistance and to assure passenger safety," said Cara Luther, an attorney for Stephanie Younger.

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