Families of 3 soldiers killed in Army helicopter crash sue owners of television tower

Thursday, September 7th 2006, 10:05 pm
By: News On 6

WACO, Texas (AP) _ Relatives of three soldiers killed in an Army helicopter crash sued the owners and operators of a television tower, claiming broken warning lights on the tower created a hazard.

Seven soldiers from Fort Hood died in November 2004 when their helicopter plummeted to the ground on a foggy morning after apparently striking cables supporting a TV transmission tower near Waco. The tower's flashing red warning lights were knocked out in a storm the week before.

The lawsuit claims the defendants should have known the lights were not operating and were in need of repair. Failure to adequately and promptly maintain the lights created ``a dangerous hazard to nearby aircraft, including the helicopter in which plaintiffs were passengers,'' it said.

Those named in the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in state district court in McLennan County, include Centex Television Limited Partnership, which owns KXXV-TV in Waco.

A television station official declined to comment. Representatives who answered the phone at Centex said the company had no comment.

Army investigators said last year that the fatal crash was caused by the pilots' attempt to fly under visual flight rules in poor weather conditions.

The lawsuit was filed by family members of Chief Warrant Officer 2 David H. Gardner Jr., 32, of Mason City, Iowa, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark W. Evans Jr., 27, of Jacksonville, Fla., who were the Black Hawk's pilots; and Capt. Todd T. Christmas, 26, of Wagon Mound, N.M.