Billionaire Petr Kellner, who died in a plane crash in March 2021, was still alive for at least two hours after the accident. He was walking around the helicopter looking for a satellite phone, writes the Alaskan Anchorage Daily News, referring to the testimony of Czech snowboarder David Horváth, who was the only crew member to survive the accident. The family of the richest Czech asked the Alaskan court to investigate the case.
Horváth confided in his lawyer Tracey Knutson. Rescuers got the snowboarder out of the wreck about six hours after the accident.
According to Horváth’s lawyer, Kellner and known guide Gregory Harms survived the impact and died before rescuers arrived. “They spoke to each other in Czech and said to each other: Don’t worry, we won’t die on that mountain today. They have to come for us within an hour,” said Horváth. Harms died within about an hour, he said.
The helicopter carrying Kellner, two other clients and two mountain guides crashed near the Knik Glacier shortly after maneuvering over the ridge the previous March. The machine then rolled about 150 meters down the slope, where it remained lying.
The Alaskan newspaper recalled that Kellner’s family is suing the airline that operated the plane, the accommodation and the guide service. They claim that their negligence and slow reaction are responsible for the billionaire’s death. The lawsuit targets Soloy Helicopters, cabin owner Triumvirate LLC and Third Edge Heli.
According to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed March 24 in Anchorage Superior Court on behalf of Kellner’s widow and four children, Kellner was seriously injured but alive and conscious after the crash.
Horváth is also suing the company that provided the members of the trip with accommodation. And that’s because of the injuries he sustained while waiting to be rescued, and the pain of having to listen to two other crash survivors die.
Kellner’s injuries were survivable
“By the time Mr. Kellner’s body was found, he had succumbed to survivable injuries,” according to the lawsuit filed by Kellner’s family. It did not provide details on the nature of the injuries or what caused his death.
The three companies named in the lawsuit should have known about the crash immediately and notified authorities, which would have prompted “life-saving medical attention,” the Kellners’ complaint states.
The accident is being investigated by the National Transport Safety Authority. A final report is expected in the summer.
The crash was one of the deadliest heli-skiing accidents in North American history and attracted international attention. In addition to Kellner, Czech snowboarding coach Benjamin Larochaix, pilot Zachary Russell and two mountain guides: Gregory Harms and Sean McManamy also died.
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