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Australian family sues Vegas helicopter company over crash

This image provided by Boulder City communications manager Lisa LaPlante shows a Grand Canyon tour helicopter after the December crash. Four Australians injured in the crash are suing over it.

This image provided by Boulder City communications manager Lisa LaPlante shows a Grand Canyon tour helicopter after the December crash. Four Australians injured in the crash are suing over it. Photo: Supplied

Four family members from Australia who were injured during a crash-landing of a sightseeing helicopter in Southern Nevada last year have filed a lawsuit in the US seeking damages from the tour operator.

Las Vegas-based Papillon Grand Canyon Tours and parent company Papillon Airways are accused of negligence and liability in the more than $US400,000 ($592,000) complaint filed on Monday in Nevada state court in Las Vegas.

Local emergency responders and the National Transportation Safety Board characterised the December 27 crash at Boulder City Municipal Airport as a “hard landing”, while the Federal Aviation Administration called it a crash while landing. Officials said seven people were injured.

An NTSB preliminary report said the landing skids of the Airbus EC130 T2 collapsed and the tail boom hit the ground, “resulting in substantial damage”.

A photo by a Boulder City official posted on Facebook showed the red helicopter upright in a flat desert area. There were no reports of a fire. The pilot was not identified.

Cedomir Rakic and Amy Rakic and their children, 17 and 19, allege in the civil complaint they suffered serious spinal injuries including fractures, head injuries and trauma due to “an in-flight loss of control” by the pilot while landing.

The family lives in Barwon Heads, near Melbourne.

“This family came to Las Vegas for a holiday vacation, and they left with life-altering injuries,” their lawyer, Brittany Sanders Robb, said.

She said the lawsuit “seeks answers and accountability” from a company that she alleged “has a history of ill-fated helicopter flights involving its sight-seeing tours”.

The crash occurred after a 25-minute flight that FlightAware, an air traffic database, tracked from the Grand Canyon near Kingman, Arizona, to the Boulder City airport. Boulder City is a half-hour drive from downtown Las Vegas.

– AAP

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