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2 Firms to Pay $2.4 Million in Fatal Rocket Fire at Edwards Base : Settlement: The family of a technician who was killed in the September accident will receive the benefits. The Air Force and Cal/OSHA are still investigating the incident.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two companies involved in a September accident at Edwards Air Force Base in which a technician was killed when a rocket motor dropped from a crane and burst into flames have agreed to a $2.4-million settlement with the dead man’s family.

Utah-based Hercules Inc., the manufacturer of the Titan 4 rocket motor, and Lampson Inc. of Oregon, the crane operator, will pay about $2.1 million to Jessie Quimby, the widow of technician Alan Quimby, according to the woman’s lawyer, William F. Gamble of Santa Maria.

Hercules and Lampson will also pay $260,000 to Quimby’s infant daughter, Signe Marie Quimby, as well as legal fees in an agreement approved Dec. 31 in Santa Barbara Superior Court, court officials said. The child was born Nov. 25, about 11 weeks after her father’s death.

The 27-year-old Quimby, an employee of Wyle Labs of El Segundo, was killed Sept. 7 by falling cement counterweights on a giant crane that was removing the rocket motor segment from an outdoor test stand at the air base’s Astronautics Laboratory.

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The counterweights toppled off the crane when the boom transporting the 150-ton motor segment gave way.

Quimby was one of several employees laying plywood on which the treads of the crane advanced.

Nine other workers were injured, none seriously, and 270,000 pounds of solid rocket fuel burned in a flash fire that sent a mushroom cloud over the Mojave Desert.

The settlement comes less than four months after the accident and before the completion of investigations by Cal/OSHA and the Air Force.

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The results of those investigations are expected within several weeks, according to Cal/OSHA and Air Force officials. Cal/OSHA officials will also announce at that time whether any citations will be issued.

Hercules spokesman Dave Nicponski declined to comment on the legal agreement, saying, “The settlement speaks for itself.” Lampson officials could not be reached for comment.

Both companies were subcontractors to the Denver-based Martin Marietta Corp. on the rocket motor construction project, with Hercules manufacturing the rocket motor and Lampson operating the crane used to transport components during testing and assembly.

Wyle Labs, which supplied laborers to Hercules for assembly work, was not involved in the settlement, said lawyer Gary Mestman, who also represented Quimby’s wife and child.


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