Jury rules two pilots shared blame in crash

Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2000

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage jury Monday decided two pilots who died in a midair collision over a Western Alaska village three years ago were both at fault.

However, the jury ordered Grant Aviation Inc. to pay the family of pilot Kevin Fisk $313,000, equal to half of his estimated potential earnings plus damages.

Fisk's father, Leon Fisck, sued Grant and the estate of its pilot, Cecil Delgado, after the March 25, 1997, crash. Delgado was flying a Grant Cessna 207 from Scammon Bay to Bethel and was passing over the village of Nunapitchuk. Fisk, flying an Arctic Circle Air Service twin turbo Skyvan was taking off from the village after dropping off a load of cargo.

The planes collided about two miles north of Nunapitchuk.

Leon Fisk sued after reading an account of the accident in a Bethel newspaper, said his attorney, Jerry Wade. The story quoted a Grant Aviation employee accusing Fisk of making an illegal turn that caused the accident.

``The principal reason for bringing litigation was the story that accused his son and tarnished his reputation,'' Wade said. ``In that sense, anyway, I think he's happy with the decision.''

Grant Aviation officials later denied the accusation was ever made.

The trial last week consisted mainly of the opposing opinions of each side's professional analysts. But the jury's decision put equal blame on both.

``I think this settles the question about as well as you can,'' said Grant's attorney, Larry Berry. ``Everyone wants to think you can look all around you and avoid each other in the air. But the truth is it's very difficult.''

The jury never saw the conclusions from a National Transportation Safety Board report on the crash. Federal law prevents NTSB conclusions from being used in civil litigation. But the jury's conclusion paralleled NTSB findings that both pilots failed to avoid trouble.

Grant Aviation president Bruce McGlasson said his company will not appeal the decision.

``This all happened three years ago now, McGlasson said. ``It's time to move on.''

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