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Families of San Diego-based Marines killed in helicopter crash sue aircraft-part makers

In this December 2017 photo, Marines arrive in a CH-53E Super Stallion.
(Marine Corps)

Four Marines based at Miramar died in the April 3, 2018, crash west of El Centro.

The families of the four Miramar-based Marine helicopter crew members killed in a training crash two years ago have sued the makers and suppliers of the aircraft parts, an attorney representing some of them said this week.

The suit alleges that Kampi Components Co. and Diamond Rubber Products Co. made and supplied a defective part that caused a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter to crash about 15 miles west of El Centro on April 3, 2018.

The suit alleges that the “root cause of the crash” was the failure of a part called a bypass valve button.

“Disintegrating rubber in the valve button caused a dangerous blockage in the helicopter’s hydraulic system — making the flight control system uncontrollable and inoperable,” attorney David S. Casey Jr. said in a news release Thursday announcing the suit.

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“There was nothing the pilots could have done to prevent this deadly accident,” said Casey, who represents two of the four families.

The lawsuit, which the attorney said was filed March 31 in a Pennsylvania state court, lists several causes of action, including negligence and breach of warranty.

No one from Pennsylvania-based Kampi immediately responded to requests for comment. A person who answered the phone Friday at Diamond Rubber in Alabama said the company had no comment.

Killed in the crash were Capt. Samuel Abraham Schultz, 28; 1st Capt. Samuel D. Phillips, 27; Gunnery Sgt. Derik Holley, 33; and Lance Cpl. Taylor J. Conrad, 24.

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All four were members of the Miramar-based Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465, under the command of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The Marines were on a CH-53E Super Stallion that had flown out of the Marine base in Twentynine Palms to practice landings in unimproved zones. It crashed not far from the Mexico border.

Figueroa writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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