Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 11, 2011

What's happened since the accident

Questions, lawsuits remain after Cessna 310 crash last Feb. 17

A year after the Feb. 17, 2010, plane crash in East Palo Alto that took three lives, much has been repaired, but much still remains unresolved, including the cause of the crash. Here is an update on the people and places impacted by the accident:

* The twin-engine Cessna 310R disabled both of the City of Palo Alto's electrical power conduits, blacking out all of Palo Alto and hampering communications for hours. City leaders have since invested $300,000 in a mobile-command unit, which has its own dispatch capabilities for emergencies. To avoid possible future blackouts, the city is negotiating with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and is exploring an existing western feed line through Stanford Linear Accelerator.

* Paul and Barbara Ingram, crash victim Andrew Ingram's parents, filed suit in San Mateo County Superior Court against pilot Douglas Bourn's estate and his company, Air Unique, Inc., on Aug. 17, 2010, for unspecified damages. Their attorney, Ara Jabachourian, said the case is moving forward.

* Victim Brian Finn's wife, Sherina Yuk Chan, and his young child, Erin Silei Finn, filed suit in San Mateo County Superior Court against Bourn's estate and his company on Jan. 10, 2011. Mother and child now reside in Hong Kong, according to court documents.

* The Palo Alto Airport Association, in conjunction with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, held a seminar at Cubberley Auditorium on Sept. 20, 2010, to discuss safety operating procedures and the risks associated with low-visibility departures. The association regularly tells members to reduce power and maintain an altitude of 1,500 feet if possible above all areas in the vicinity of the airport, according to Ralph Britton, the airport association's president.

* The airport association established a fund to assist people affected by the crash. It purchased and delivered a truck to replace the uninsured one belonging to the Ramirez family on Beech Street that was destroyed, and the group covered insurance for the initial period, Britton said. Dave Hengehold of Hengehold Truck Rental in Palo Alto aided the association in finding an appropriate vehicle.

* Pinkie and Ervin Hudleton, whose carport was destroyed, received insurance compensation and rebuilt the structure. A car that was damaged has been repaired, she said.

* Rafael Cortes, whose home was damaged by the fire and explosion, said insurance has covered much of the cost for repairing the home, but there have been out-of-pocket costs. His brother's vehicle, which was destroyed in their driveway, still has not been compensated for, he said.

* Lisa Jones, whose home and day care center was structurally damaged, remains homeless and jobless. She and residents of her home filed claims against Douglas Bourn's estate on Sept. 2, 2010.

* The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still investigating the cause of the plane crash. No final report has been issued.

Sue Dremann

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