Marine’s Widow Sues over Copter Crash

posted on:
April 11, 2002

Lateef Mungin

The wife of a Marine helicopter mechanic killed in the crash of an MV-22 Osprey in December 2000 has sued manufacturers, claiming they knew the helicopter’s design was defective.

Karen Runnels of Morven, in South Georgia, filed the lawsuit in Fulton County State Court on Tuesday.

Staff Sgt. Avely Runnels, 25, was killed with three other Marines on Dec. 11, 2000, when the Osprey they were flying in crashed on a night training fight near Jacksonville, N.C.

Ospreys have been grounded since the North Carolina crash, which occurred eight months after an Arizona crash killed 19 Marines. Four Ospreys have crashed, leading many critics to contend that the aircraft is dangerous.

In October, Boeing and Bell Helicopter settled a lawsuit filed by the family of Lt. Col. Keith Sweaney, who also was killed in the North Carolina crash, agreeing to pay more than $1 million.

The latest suit names Osprey manufacturers Boeing Corp., and Bell Helicopter Textron, BAE Inc. and four of its divisions, as well as 12 contractors who worked on the craft’s design and assembly.

Spokesmen for Boeing and Bell Helicopter said their companies had not seen the suit and were not prepared to comment on it.

Runnels has said she does not want to settle out of court in hopes the public can learn more about the manufacturer’s role in the deaths, said Jere Beasley, Runnels’ attorney.

"She wants the public to know that these deaths could have been prevented," Beasley said Wednesday.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and compensation for the cost of Avely Runnels’ funeral.

On Wednesday, a Marine Corps spokesman said Osprey test flights are scheduled to resume next month.

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