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March 2, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Settlement reached in fatal copter crash in Kittitas Co.

A confidential settlement has been reached in a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the estate of a South Korean businessman killed in a 2007 helicopter crash near Easton, Kittitas County, according to a Los Angeles law firm representing the family of the victim.

The suit, which named Robinson Helicopter, the California manufacturer of the R44 II helicopter, had been set to go to trial in King County Superior Court next week.

The suit, filed in 2009 on behalf of the widow and two children of Si Young Lee, alleged that the helicopter’s fuel system and tail rotor system were unsafe.

Classic Helicopter, the Seattle company that operated helicopter, also was part of the settlement, the Los Angeles firm said today. The suit alleged the company knew or should have known about the purported defects.

Lee, 45, the president of a South Korean furniture company, was visiting Washington to inspect export-grade timber. Three other people, including the pilot, also were killed and the crash sparked a 485-acre wildfire.

The crash occurred on Aug. 2, 2007, after Lee, his business partner, Hyun Song, and Robert Hagerman, 64, an Everett timber broker, flew in the helicopter over the Cascades to a logging site. The helicopter, which was flown from Boeing Field in Seattle, crashed and burst into flames minutes after it left the logging site for a return trip.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the crash resulted from pilot error. The pilot, flying downhill, attempted a “downwind takeoff” in high-density altitude conditions, the safety board concluded, noting that the craft’s operation at 77 pounds over the limit for existing conditions and a gusty tail wind were contributing factors.

The NTSB report didn’t cite defects with the helicopter.

The lawsuit alleged the helicopter experienced a mechanical failure and hit the ground at low speed, and that the occupants were burned because of a design flaw in the fuel tanks.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: King County Superior Court, wrongful-death lawsuit

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