Widow of Gary Knopp files cross complaint against charter company

Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Soldotna, speaks during a House Minority press availability, April 6, 2017. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)
Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Soldotna, speaks during a House Minority press availability in April 2017. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

Rep. Gary Knopp’s widow, Helen Knopp, has filed a counter complaint against High Adventure Air Charters, the Soldotna company whose plane collided with Knopp’s last summer. Seven people died in the crash.

Representatives of four of the charter passengers filed lawsuits last month against Helen Knopp and the Knopp estate, alleging Knopp was negligent because he was flying his private plane without a valid medical certificate.

The cross complaint, filed today, counters the claims made against Knopp in the lawsuit. It also alleges High Adventure Air Charters and Gregory Bell, who was piloting the charter plane, were negligent and caused the crash.

Knopp’s plane and the charter plane collided above Soldotna last July, killing Knopp and Bell. The crash also killed passengers Kristen Wright, Caleb Hulsey, MacKay Hulsey and Heather Hulsey, all of South Carolina. David Rogers, a Kansas guide, also died in the crash.

There are multiple lawsuits in motion against Knopp, Bell and High Adventure Air Charters on behalf of the victims, including one that was already settled in court. But this is the first complaint naming Gary Knopp as a victim of negligence.

Alaska law allows a jury to rule multiple parties partially responsible and distribute harms and losses accordingly.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the crash. The board found that Knopp had a history of vision problems, which barred him from receiving a medical certification in 2012.

A recent report from the board also found the charter plane involved in the crash did not have an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, a technology that allows planes to send and receive three-dimensional data about where they are in the airspace. It was not a requirement for either plane involved in the crash but the board says in its analysis it could have helped the planes avoid the crash.

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