Atherton community rebuilds plane-crash victim's home | August 15, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 15, 2014

Atherton community rebuilds plane-crash victim's home

Volunteer efforts, donations will get an East Palo Alto woman back into her house

by Sue Dremann

Four years after a Tesla employee's plane plummeted into an East Palo Alto neighborhood, destroying Lisa Jones' home and child care center, residents of Atherton and dozens of community volunteers have stepped forward to rebuild Jones' home — and life.

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Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at [email protected]


Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 15, 2014 at 6:37 pm

This is a heartwarming story - many thanks to all who have helped Lisa Jones rebuild!

Posted by question
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 17, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Does anyone know why no one's insurance covered the cost of rebuilding the house?

This seems totally crazy that a plane could crash into your house and you are the one screwed.

Posted by Katie
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 17, 2014 at 8:34 pm

A lot of angels were at work. What a great undertaking from all of them.

Posted by carla c
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2014 at 8:50 pm

Yes, why wasn't the settlement adequate? And what about insurance? Is this case instructive for all of us?

Posted by Chris
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 18, 2014 at 8:13 am

I thought it was a guys from Google?

a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2014 at 10:29 am

Comments about the settlement for the Jones family knock on a door that the legal system has nailed shut—

Web Link

Reached on Tuesday, Jones declined to comment on whether the settlement would be enough to rebuild her home and restart her business, Eppie's Day Care. Sources close to the family characterized the settlement as disappointing. Jones said only that she will rebuild her home on Beech Street.

Attorneys for those cases have not commented on the outcomes.

There are so many issues here—that the City of Palo Alto should have been keenly concerned about before taking on the role of operator of this airport. The pilot, Bourn, was not a Palo Alto resident, although he seems to have been working for a company that has a business presence in Palo Alto. His refusal to honor the concern of the flight controller in the Tower demonstrates just how much we all have to worry about—particularly since IFR take offs/landings are inherently more dangerous than VFR flight operations. In this case—all this pilot had to do was wait until the fog cleared, and he would have been able to take off safely. Sadly—he didn’t think that waiting as an option for himself.

Most airports require that people housing their planes carry insurance, in case they do damage to the airport. But there is no requirement by the FAA that pilots carry very much insurance—in order to have a license, or to use public-access (FAA subsidized) airports. While prudent pilots might carry more insurance than an airport minimum, there is no requirement that they declare this extra insurance. So, there is no way to know what kinds of financial reserves pilots have when they fly their airplanes into/out of the Palo Alto Airport.

In this case, the pilot (Bourn) didn’t seem to have much in the way of financial reserves—and so whatever the estate could provide to those damaged by Bourn’s actions did not seem to be very much. However, since there is no legal requirement that the settlement be made public—no one really knows (other than those involved in the settlement) how much money was on the table to pay for the damages cause by the crash.

Everyone living under the envelope of operations of this airport could find themselves in the same situation as this family in East Palo Alto did.

It’s interesting that no one in Palo Alto, or those pilots flying out of the Palo Alto airport seems to have been visible in helping this family recover from their misfortunes.

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