Families of Soldotna plane crash victims sue estate, widow of former Alaska Rep. Gary Knopp

Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Soldotna, speaks during a House Minority press availability, April 6, 2017. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)
Former Soldotna GOP Rep. Gary Knopp is the subject of two new federal lawsuits. (Skip Gray/360 North)

The families of four passengers killed in a mid-air crash last summer are suing the estate of Gary Knopp, the former Alaska state representative who was piloting the plane that collided with theirs.

Representatives for Kristen Wright, Caleb Hulsey, MacKay Hulsey and Heather Hulsey, all of South Carolina, filed two separate federal lawsuits Thursday against Knopp’s estate and his wife, Helen Knopp.

Both suits also target the estate of Gregory Bell, the charter pilot who also died in the crash, and the two companies that owned and operated the charter plane, High Adventure Air Charters and Soldotna Aircraft & Equipment Leasing.

Knopp’s private plane collided with the charter plane carrying Wright and the Hulseys above Soldotna last July, killing Knopp and all six on board the charter. Caleb and MacKay were brothers; Wright and Heather Hulsey were their partners.

The National Transportation Safety Board later found that Knopp was denied a medical certification from the Federal Aviation Administration in 2012 because of vision problems. Federal regulations require a medical certificate to fly.

That’s outlined in the complaint attached to one of the lawsuits, filed by William Hulsey, who’s the father of the two brothers, according to an online obituary. The other lawsuit was filed by Wright’s parents.

William Hulsey’s complaint alleges that Knopp was negligent in his operation of the aircraft because he was flying without a valid medical certificate. It also alleges negligence against Helen Knopp, saying she knew or should have known about her husband’s vision problems.

High Adventure Air guide David Rogers also died in the crash. He is not mentioned in the complaint.

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