(BLOOMFIELD) - A civil suit has been filed in Greene Circuit Court against 55-year-old Brent Sears, of Linton, the pilot in a March 23 small aircraft crash near Shawnee Field.
Nick Schneider of the Greene County Daily World reports that 39-year-old Stephen Sutton and his wife Jennifer, of Worthington, filed the suit.
Stephen Sutton was a passenger in the single-engine plane.
The crash happened about 9 p.m. when the southbound aircraft failed to come down on the runway at the grass airstrip, located near the intersection of State Road 54/57.
The crash site was less than a quarter-mile from the airport runway on property owned by Lester Holtsclaw, located about two miles east of Switz City. The 1977 model Mooney M20J fixed wing single engine plane crashed into the south bank of Lattas Creek, southeast of the airport.
The plane, which was heavily damaged in the crash, was owned by Edward Woods, of Route 3, Linton, and Sears, according to FAA records.
The Suttons allege in the suit prepared by Anthony Patterson of the Lebanon law firm of Parr Richey Obremskey Frandsen & Patterson LLP, that Sears "piloted his aircraft in a careless and negligent manner."
"As a direct and proximate result of defendant's carelessness and negligence in piloting his aircraft, he caused it to violently crash while attempting to land at the airfield," Patterson wrote in the complaint for damages that was filed with the court.
The suit alleges that Sears is liable and negligent for damages suffered by Stephen Sutton ---- including medical expenses, lost wages, personal injuries, physical pain, emotional suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
Stephen Sutton suffered "serious permanent and temporary physical and emotional injuries" as the result of the crash, the suit alleges.
In addition, the suit on behalf of Jennifer Sutton, alleges negligence by Sears in causing loss of love, affection, services, consortium and the companionship of her husband.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials surveyed the site of the single-engine airplane crash the morning after the crash and the case has been turned over to the National Safety Transportation Board (NSTB) to conduct the investigation.
A final report on the cause of the crash could take a year to be filed, according to a spokesperson in the Great Lakes Office of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Chicago.
The preliminary report prepared by the NSTB shows that the flight originated at the Sullivan County Airport about 8:40 p.m. and crashed 20 minutes later at 9 p.m.
According to an Indiana State Police report submitted to the NSTB, "The pilot said he had just arrived at the airport as it was getting dark. Upon landing, when he applied the brakes they did not seem to be working. The pilot attempted to abort the landing and subsequently impacted a levy south of the runway."
The NTBS reported added, "The passenger (Sutton) told law enforcement that the pilot came in 'too hot' and he thought the airplane's brakes were working fine."
The NTBS reports states that Sears held a commercial pilot certificate and was a certified flight and ground instructor with more than 1,300 flight hours at the time of his last FAA Third Class medical certification on July 25, 2011.
Rescue personnel from the Fairplay-Grant Township Volunteer Fire Department in Switz City and the Worthington Fire Territory extricated the two men from the aircraft by cutting the top off of it.
Sears and Sutton were both taken to Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital for initial treatment by Greene County Ambulance Service units.
Both were later transferred to IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.
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