A jury awarded the families of helicopter pilots killed in 2014 in a midair collision in Frederick a total of $17 million on Tuesday.
The families of Christopher Parsons, 29, of Westminster, and William Jenkins, 47, of Morrison, Colorado, sued Midwest Air Traffic Control Services, the contractor that runs the tower at Frederick Municipal Airport, claiming the company’s negligence was responsible for the fatal crash between a helicopter and Cirrus plane on Oct. 23, 2014.
Breandan MacFawn, 35, of Cumberland, a passenger on the helicopter, also died in the crash, but his family is not part of the suit.
The jury awarded the Jenkins family $12 million and the Parsons family $5 million.
Economists working on behalf of the families estimated that Parsons would have contributed around $3.3 million to the family if he worked until age 70. They calculated the financial loss of Jenkins, president of his family business, Allegany Coal and Land, at around $4.5 million. In a second estimate that included the value of dividends from the company, the loss was as great as $12.2 million.
Midwest argued against the suit, saying that it was the pilots’ lack of awareness that caused the fatal crash.
For Parsons’ widow, however, the verdict was a form of vindication. “The biggest thing I wanted was for my husband’s name to be cleared,” Ashlee Parsons said. “He was an amazing pilot.”
The families and their representatives hoped the verdict would encourage safety at the airport.
Nancy Parsons, Christopher Parsons’ mother, said she was happy about the verdict “so this tragedy doesn’t happen again.”
Attorneys for the families said that there should be a standard operating procedure put in place at the airport to help prevent crashes.
Jenkins' widow did not comment on the verdict outside of the courtroom, but said she may make a statement later.
Attorneys for Midwest could not immediately be reached for comment.