Family of nurse killed in helicopter crash gets $5 million

Published 3:00 am Thursday, May 4, 2017

The family of a nurse killed in a Haynes LifeFlight helicopter that crashed after leaving Troy Regional Medical Center last year has been awarded a $5 million settlement.

Deborah Bedford and Javier Cernadas, the parents of victim Stacey Cernadas, will receive the $5 million settlement from helicopter operator and pilot supplier Metro Aviation of Shreveport, La.

Gary C. Robb, the aviation lawyer from Kansas City, Missouri, that represented the family, said Metro Aviation did the right thing in settling the suit.

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“On behalf of the family we’d like to commend Metro Aviation for taking responsibility for this horrible helicopter crash and not putting the family through years and years of lawsuit litigation,” Robb said.

Robb said the crash was a tragedy, but said that Cernadas died doing what she loved.

“Flight nurse who was lost Stacey Cernadas only 36 a the time of the crash,” Robb said. “What’s sad is she was someone who dedicated her life to serving others and she died doing what she loved and not many can say that.”

Robb explained that Metro Aviation was sued because the supplied pilot Chad Hammond, who also died in the crash, while Haynes supplied the medical staff.

“Metro Aviation was the employer of the pilot, so they were responsible for the pilot’s fault in crashing the helicopter,” Robb said. “However, Metro Aviation stood behind its pilot and accepted responsibility.”

The other two individuals killed in the crash were flight medic Jason Snipes and patient Zach Strickland.

The crash occurred March 26, 2016, when the helicopter left Troy and headed to the scene of an accident in Goodman, where Strickland’s vehicle had hit a ditch and light pole.

After picking Strickland up just after midnight, the helicopter fell from the sky. The National Transportation Safety Board has not yet released a final report, but the preliminary report shows that fog and mist reduced visibility at the time of the crash.

“Fog, mist, and reduced visibility existed at the (landing zone) at the time of the helicopter’s arrival,” the report reads. “Witnesses also observed that these same conditions were still present when the helicopter lifted off approximately 23 minutes later.”

Haynes LifeFlight and Troy Regional Medical Center recently held a ceremony to reflect on the accident on its one-year anniversary and dedicated a memorial to the crew just outside the helicopter’s landing pad.