Utah family sues over fatal plane crash, claims pilot was drunk
The family of man killed in a St. George plane crash which claimed a total of four lives is suing the family of the pilot and the business that owned the plane, saying the pilot was flying under the influence of alcohol.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Salt Lake County's 3rd District Court, the family of 20-year-old Christopher Jordan Chapman claims 23-year-old Tanner Holt had been drinking until the early hours of May 26, 2012.
At 1:20 a.m., Holt was piloting the Cessna 172 single-engine aircraft when it took off from the St. George Municipal Airport, carrying Chapman and two other friends. The group had planned to travel to Mesquite, Nevada.
"Holt flew the aircraft at a low altitude just above the runway for some time, eventually rapidly ascending the plane into the night sky," the lawsuit states. "Several seconds later, the aircraft suddenly entered a rapid descent and crashed, propeller first, merely 300 feet from the airport runway."
Holt, of Washington City, and Chapman, of Santa Clara, both died, along with the two other passengers, Colby Chester Hafen , 28, of Santa Clara, and Alexander James Metzger, 22, of St. George.
In the lawsuit, Chapman's mother, Terry Lee Chapman, claims that the Cessna was owned by Diamond Flying, LLC, and Holt's father, Bradford Holt. The suit argues that Diamond Flying and Bradford Holt "provided Tanner Holt unrestricted access" and "negligently entrusted the aircraft to Tanner Holt when they knew or should have known that Tanner Holt was operating the aircraft impaired, under the influence of alcohol or in a manner inconsistent with the plane's load weight limitations."
Diamond Flying's Utah business registration expired in March, and the registered agent could not be reached for comment. Bradford Holt also could not immediately be reached for comment.