A Helo Crash Killed Their Crew Chief. Now 2 Surviving Soldiers Are Suing The Manufacturer

A U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed around 1:50 p.m. April 17 at the Breton Bay Golf Course and Country Club in Leonardtown in Maryland

Editor’s Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

A firm representing the victims of an April 2017 Army Black Hawk UH-60L helicopter crash has filed a lawsuit against Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, alleging that the tail rotor was improperly manufactured and caused the death of the crew chief and serious injuries to both pilots.

Marine veteran and attorney Timothy Loranger filed the lawsuit Monday in Connecticut Superior Court on behalf of the Army Capt. Terikazu Onoda and his wife Faith Onoda; Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher Nicholas; and Jessica Tomlin, the wife of Army Spec. Jeremy Tomlin, who was killed in the crash.

Loranger, an attorney with Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, told Military.com Tuesday that the suit accuses Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aerospace Services, Inc. and its parent company, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, of "products liability and loss of consortium."

"The helicopter was defective, it crashed, the pilots were badly injured, one person died; Sikorsky, we are alleging, is responsible for the crash," Loranger said.

"The injuries that were suffered were physical injuries, emotional injuries of the pilots. The death of the crew chief was the end of the relationship between the crew chief and his wife -- so loss of consortium is her loss of care, comfort ... all the things one gets from a personal relationship with their spouse.

"So we say Sikorsky is responsible for all damages that occurred. The same thing that occurs between the pilot, who is also married — Terikazu Onoda — he and his wife — their relationship is far different now because of the injuries that he suffered."

Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson said Tuesday that Sikorsky is aware of the lawsuit but the company’s policy is to “not comment on pending litigation."


Onoda was piloting the UH-60L Black Hawk, Nicholas was acting as co-pilot and Tomlin was the crew chief on April 17, 2017. The helicopter was one of three aircraft conducting a daylight air assault training formation flight.

During the flight to Davison Army Airfield, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the helicopter experienced "unexplained and abnormal vibrations," according to a Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman news release issued on Dec. 10. The air crew radioed they were experiencing a tail rotor malfunction and announced that they were going to make a precautionary landing at Deerfield Airport, Maryland, a private airport three nautical miles south of their position, according to the release.

Seconds later "the tail rotor gearbox, which allows the pilots to control the direction of flight, separated from the helicopter and resulted in complete loss of control. The aircrew advised that they 'were going down,' initiated an autorotation and made a left turn toward a long fairway at the Breton Bay Golf Course in Leonardtown, Maryland," according to the release.

Despite the pilots' attempts to maintain control, the aircraft began to spin to the right, completing three rotations to the right before colliding with a tree and then the ground. Onoda and Nicholas sustained serious injuries in the crash. Tomlin was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the release.

"We are saying that something went terribly wrong with the tail rotor system that caused it to malfunction so badly that it literally left the aircraft. ... They had no control over the yaw of the aircraft and they crashed because of that, and we are saying 'it's a manufacturing or a design defect,' " Loranger said.

The next step for the suit is to exchange information with Sikorsky and investigate to determine whether the tail rotor section was manufactured properly and to appropriate standards, Loranger said.

“It looks like something went wrong during the manufacturing process that allowed there to be a weakness within the tail rotor section," he said. "We are suggesting that they made it incorrectly."

Loranger did not want to discuss the amount of compensation the court might award the victims should they win the suit.

"We are still investigating the case," Loranger said. "The damages are someone died, two men's lives have been completely changed and that is up to a jury to decide."

This article originally appeared on Military.com

Read more articles from Military.com:


Editor's Note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

In the wake of a heartwarming viral video that was featured everywhere from Good Morning America to the Daily Mail comes a disheartening revelation: The 84-year-old self-described Army nurse cranking out push-ups in her crisp Vietnam-era uniform might not be who she said she was.

Maggie DeSanti, allegedly a retired Army lieutenant colonel who rappeled out of helicopters in Vietnam, was captured in a video challenging a TSA agent to a push-up competition ahead of a flight to Washington, D.C., with the Arizona chapter of the organization Honor Flight on Oct. 16. The video soon was everywhere, and many who shared it, including Honor Flight, hailed DeSanti's toughness and spirit.

Read More Show Less

The summer before sixth grade, Cindy Dawson went to an air show with her father and was enamored by the flight maneuvers the pilots performed.

"I just thought that would be the coolest thing that anybody could ever do," she said, especially having already heard stories about her grandfather flying bombers during World War II with the Army Air Corps.

So by the first day of school, she had already decided what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Read More Show Less
(ABC News)

Peach schnapps, sex on the beach, piña colada may be familiar cocktails to anyone who's spent an afternoon (or a whole day) getting plastered on an ocean-side boardwalk, but they're also specialty desserts at Ray's Boozy Cupcakes, Etc, a bakery in Voorhees, New Jersey run by a 93-year-old World War II veteran named Ray Boutwell.

Read More Show Less
Instagram/US Coast Guard

A former senior Coast Guard official has been accused of shoplifting from a Philadelphia sex shop.

Rear Adm. Francis "Stash" Pelkowski (Ret.) was accused of stealing a tester item from Kink Shoppe on Oct. 8, according to an Instagram post by the store that appeared online two days later. In the post, which included apparent security camera footage of the incident, a man can be seen looking at products on a counter before picking up an item and placing it in his pocket before turning and walking away.

The Instagram post identified the man as Pelkowski, and said it wished him "all the best in his retirement, a sincere thank you for your service, and extreme and utter disappointment in his personal morals."

Read More Show Less

SAN DIEGO —The Marines say changes in the way they train recruits and their notoriously hard-nosed drill instructors have led to fewer incidents of drill instructor misconduct, officials told the Union-Tribune.

Their statement about training followed an Oct. 5 Washington Post report revealing that more than 20 Marines at the San Diego boot camp have been disciplined for misconduct since 2017, including cases of physical attacks and racist and homophobic slurs. The story also was published in the Union-Tribune.

Read More Show Less