Woman Sues Over Air Deaths

posted on:
March 29, 2007


The woman who watched her husband and son perish in a plane crash at Shelby County air show last September is suing the pilot’s estate, the airplane’s co-owner and others in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

Pamela K. Smitherman of Brent claims negligence and wantonness in the wrongful death action and is asking for a jury trial to decide damages.

Smitherman lost her husband, John Wayne Smitherman, 38, and her son, John Landson Smitherman, 11, when an airplane flown by Clayton V. Reuse ran out of fuel during a demonstration ride at the Birmingham Aero Club’s “Wings and Wheels” air show.

Reuse, 62, of Indian Springs Village, also died when the four-seat Beechcraft Bonanza F33 crashed.

Smitherman’s lawyer, J. Cole Portis of Montgomery, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that Reuse “had flat run out of gas, something that is completely inexcusable.”

The report of the National Transportation Safety Board blamed pilot error in the crash.

Kathy Reuse, the pilot’s widow, declined to comment on the suit.

The other named defendants include Jon Rogers of Birmingham, identified as a co-owner of the airplane; C.J. Aviation; and Birmingham Aero Club Air Safety Foundation. Efforts to reach the defendants were unsuccessful. The defendants have 30 days to answer the suit, which was filed Monday.

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