SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — An Oklahoma man is unlikely to recover from serious brain injuries he suffered when a private jet he was riding in crashed into homes near a northern Indiana airport and killed the two pilots earlier this year, his attorney said.
Jim Rodgers of Tulsa, Okla., and his son-in-law Chris Evans were passengers when the plane crashed March 17 while coming in for an emergency landing at South Bend Regional Airport. The crash killed former University of Oklahoma quarterback Steve Davis and Tulsa businessman Wes Caves, who were flying the plane.
Rodgers is now bedridden and has trouble speaking, his family’s attorney, Fred Stoops, told the South Bend Tribune (http://bit.ly/19Nse6c ).
“It’s still highly unlikely he will make a serious recovery and be independent,” Stoops said.
Evans is in better shape but has orthopedic injuries, he said.
Rodgers and Evans worked for Caves, whose automotive coating business, Digicut Sales, was an owner the jet. Caves was traveling to northern Indiana from Oklahoma for business, according to a lawsuit the Rodgers and Evans families filed in April.
Stoops said the lawsuit is on hold until the National Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation.
The lawsuit was filed against the manufacturer of the Hawker Beechcraft jet, Digicut Sales and other owners of the plane. It claims they are at fault for its mechanical problems. The families are seeking unspecified damages for physical injury, emotional distress, loss of normal life, medical expenses and lost earnings.
Beechcraft Corp. and other defendants have denied the lawsuit’s claims in court filings.
Rodgers was a firefighter when he was injured, but his health insurance didn’t cover injuries suffered when working other jobs, Stoops said. Rodgers’ family is able to pay for some of his medical care but not all of it.
“They are totally mortgaging their future in hopes that at some point, they can get it back,” Stoops said.
A preliminary NTSB report said one of the pilots radioed to controllers soon before the crash that the plane had lost all power and was barely controllable.
On a second runway approach, the pilot tried to land with only the plane’s nose landing gear extended. Witnesses said the plane bounced several times on the runway before it climbed into a right turn, then nose-dived into three homes in a nearby neighborhood.
A woman who lived in one of the houses was hospitalized for three days after the crash.
Davis, who was Oklahoma’s starting quarterback as the Sooners won the 1974 and 1975 national championships, was a friend of Caves.
Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com