Coast Guard aviator’s attorney talks about the dismissal of charges, defense in case

Lieutenant Lance Leone is a U.S. Coast Guard aviator, and the sole survivor of a 2010 helicopter crash that killed three people from Air Station Sitka. He was facing charges of negligent homicide and destruction of government property.

According to Leone’s attorney, John Smith, Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo decided not to send the charges on to court martial.

Smith says while it’s the end of the charges, it’s the beginning of a new chapter for Leone.

“Probably one of the most difficult things he’s going to have to do is to be able to do that thing that he loves to do again,” Smith said. “It’s been quite a while since he’s flown or piloted an aircraft, and I’m hoping that he is going to be able to go to retraining soon, pass that retraining, and look forward to a new assignment in the Coast Guard, flying and rescuing people in accordance with the Coast Guard mission.”

Smith said Ostebo’s decision, and the outcome of the charges against his client, serve as encouragement for the members of all military branches that the military’s system of justice works.

Smith says Leone is ecstatic about dismissal of the charges. He talked more about the case in this interview with KTOO on Tuesday afternoon.