Five months after the country music community lost one of its favorite sons, Montgomery Gentry’s Troy Gentry, Troy’s wife, Angie, has sued the manufacturer and distributor of the helicopter that the country star was flying in at the time of his death.
The website Courthouse News obtained a copy of the lawsuit and, in it, three entities—Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Sikorsky Global Helicopters, Inc. and Keystone Helicopter Corporation, all based out of Pennsylvania—are being sued for damages associated with Troy’s wrongful death, including “loss of care comfort companionship and consortium” and support for Angie, as well as Troy’s daughters, 15-year-old Kaylee and 24-year-old Taylor. These claims can include the loss of income, inheritance and “loss of life’s pleasures.”
It’s gut-wrenching to see it in black-and-white, and drives home the realization that this once happy family is now without their husband, father, provider, teacher, friend and cornerstone.
The lawsuit goes on to explain that the particular helicopter that Troy was riding in at the time of the Sept. 8, 2017 crash in New Jersey was built in 2000, and that the model was a product designed for both military and private use. However, the lawsuit claims that the “dangers from the lack of crashworthiness and defects in the engine, transmission and sprag clutch, throttle cables, engine attachments and absence of crashworthy features” would be unknown to the average user and consumer of the helicopter, but would have been well known by the defendants.
It also states that instead of correcting the defects, Sikorsky and Keystone treated the helicopters like “an unwanted burden.”
It is a jammed throttle cable that is being blamed for causing the accident by throwing the engine into high speed.
According to the suit, “The decision was made to shut down the engine with the mixture control (i.e., cutting off the gas) at an altitude of 959 feet, or about 850 feet above ground level, and perform a routine autorotation safely to the ground. (Autorotation is a procedure where the rotor system is permitted to freewheel and forward speed and rotor speed are translated into lift close to the ground where a soft landing can be made.)”
Apparently, because of other alleged mechanical defects, the helicopter did not go into autorotation and that caused it to “drop like a stone to the ground,” killing both Troy and the pilot. The suit goes on to say that there was no procedure in the helicopter’s Pilot Operating Handbook to effectively deal with the emergency.
There are 26 different counts of negligence listed in the document regarding defects, operation and safety. The suit also requests a trial by jury.
Damages are being requested in excess of $50,000, with the final award being determined by the court.
A spokesperson for Sikorsky declined Courthouse News’ request for comment, pending an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, saying only that the company is “fully cooperating” with that investigation.
Our hearts go out to Angie and the girls while they continue to go through this painful process. It would seem that their hope is that no one else ever goes through the staggering loss that they have endured.