The widow of the student pilot killed in the Jan. 15, 1987, midair collision over Kearns that killed 10 people has filed suit against the U.S. government, asserting negligence in overseeing air traffic near the airport.
Chester Baker's widow, Michele, and her minor son, Robert, are plaintiffs in a suit filed in U.S. District Court against the Federal Aviation Administration. The suit contends that the federal agency was negligent in monitoring traffic when a single-engine Mooney aircraft collided with a SkyWest plane that was attempting to land at the Salt Lake City International Airport.An FAA spokesman indicated Wednesday the government will refrain from public comment until after litigation has been completed.
The accident was the worst local airplane disaster in more than two decades. The collision caused bits of metal and body parts to fall over several miles of a Kearns neighborhood.
The suit contends that the FAA had a duty to supervise, operate, control and maintain the approach control radar and advise planes in its jurisdiction if they were getting too close. The FAA should have warned the planes they were too close to each other and were entering an area of potential danger, the suit says.
At the time of the crash, pilot Baker was in the Mooney aircraft receiving instrument flight regulation training from Paul Penrose Lietz, a licensed flight instructor, according to the suit.
The SkyWest plane, with eight passengers, had been traveling from Pocatello to Salt Lake and was approaching its final landing across the western part of the Salt Lake Valley at an altitude of 7,000 feet just before the accident occurred.
Baker was flying out of the Salt Lake Airport No. 2, located south of the international airport.
SkyWest is also named as a defendant in the suit. If the court determines that SkyWest is partially at fault for the collision, then the Bakers ask a percentage of the damages determined.