Parents of Man Killed in Grand Canyon Crash Get $100M Settlement

Helicopter's fuel tank 'was basically a fire bomb'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 23, 2018 7:55 AM CST
Updated Jan 9, 2024 4:23 PM CST
4th Tourist Dies After Grand Canyon Copter Crash
In this Feb. 10, 2018, photo, a survivor, lower right, walks away from the scene of a deadly helicopter crash along the jagged rocks of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.   (Teddy Fujimoto via AP, File)
UPDATE Jan 9, 2024 4:23 PM CST

A Nevada judge has approved a $100 million cash settlement to the parents of a British tourist who was among five killed—including his newlywed wife—when a helicopter crashed and burst into flames in the Grand Canyon in 2018. Under the settlement, the family of Jonathan Udall, 31, will receive $24.6 million from the operator of the helicopter, Papillon Airways Inc., and $75.4 million from its French manufacturer, Airbus Helicopters SAS. The family's lawyer, Gary C. Robb, says they insisted the settlement terms be made public to raise awareness about aircraft fuel tanks they say are prone to rupturing. "The parents say the fuel tank was basically a fire bomb," Robb tells the AP. He says the parents don't "want anyone else to go through what their son went through in an otherwise survivable accident."

Feb 23, 2018 7:55 AM CST

A tourist pulled from the wreckage of a fiery helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon died from his injuries Thursday, per Nevada authorities. The Clark County coroner confirmed in a statement that 31-year-old Neil Udall (also IDed as Jonathan Udall) died at University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, the AP reports. He'd been with a group of fellow Brits visiting Las Vegas when a sightseeing helicopter they were flying in crashed in part of the Grand Canyon on Feb. 10. Three of Udall's friends died. Udall was one of four people, including the pilot, hospitalized after the crash. The crash killed veterinary receptionist Becky Dobson, 27; her boyfriend, Stuart Hill, a 30-year-old car salesman; and his brother, Jason Hill, a 32-year-old lawyer. The friends, who were in Las Vegas to celebrate Stuart Hill's birthday, opted to take a Grand Canyon sightseeing helicopter tour on tribal land.

Unlike the more tightly regulated air tours within Grand Canyon National Park, helicopters quickly deposit tourists on the Hualapai reservation and within the canyon for lunches, hikes, or pontoon boat rides, then whisk them away. In peak season, the reservation has 350 to 400 flights per day, per the FAA. A preliminary report released Wednesday says the helicopter made at least two 360-degree turns before crashing, but the NTSB doesn't say what caused the crash. A full report won't be completed for more than a year. The other survivors are the 42-year-old pilot, Scott Booth; Ellie Milward, 29, newly married to Udall; and Jennifer Barham, 39. A hospital spokesman says all three remained in critical condition Thursday.

(More Grand Canyon stories.)

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