Lawsuit filed by son of photographer killed in chopper crash

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Wrongful death lawsuit filed

PHOENIX - The first lawsuit has been filed in connection to last year's helicopter crash that killed four Valley journalists.

The crash involved helicopters from Channel 3 and Channel 15. The suit was filed on behalf of the son of Rick Krolak, the Channel 15 photographer who died in the accident.

The lawsuit claims pilot Craig Smith and Smith's employer, U.S. Helicopter Incorporated, are responsible for Krolak's death. Rick Krolak's son, Colton, is a minor at 15 years old so he has court-appointed people responsible for making financial decisions for him. They have filed this lawsuit.

Colton gave a moving speech at the memorial for the first anniversary of the crash just this past Sunday. In stark contrast to Colton's touching speech, a wrongful death lawsuit filed on his behalf uses harsh words to assign blame for the deadly crash. It holds pilot Craig Smith and his employer responsible for the death of Colton's father.

While the exact cause of the crash has yet to be determined, much of the lawsuit seems to be based on a preliminary crash report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board. It says Channel 3's helicopter was stationary while Channel 15's was maneuvering.

The lawsuit states: "Defendant Craig Smith control the Channel 15 helicopter and caused it or allowed it to collide with the Channel 3 helicopter."

Attorneys say U.S. Helicopter Incorporated"...knew or should have known....that defendant Craig Smith was a reckless, dangerous pilot..."

Aviation attorneys say they saw this lawsuit coming. They expect several more crash-related lawsuits to be filed in the coming months.

The suit filed on behalf of Colton Krolak does not ask for a specific dollar amount and says more defendants could be named.

Craig Smith's family has hired an aviation attorney from Colorado. He says he had not heard of the lawsuit until Thursday and had no comment.