An Aurora, Oregon, helicopter company must pay $14.6 million to the families of two men in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Marion County jurors found Winco Powerline Services responsible for the deaths of two workers, Travis Chiokai and Nick Gamalski, who fell when a rope suspending them from a helicopter broke in 2017.
Chiokai, 26, and Gamalski, 27, were working from the helicopter, owned and operated by Winco, in Louisiana on power lines that were more than 100 feet off the ground, according to court documents.
“Shortly after takeoff, the helicopter pilot maneuvered the helicopter in such [a] way as to cause the long-line to rub against a high-tension static line which in turn caused the long-line to sever,” documents said.
Attorneys for the men stated the incident could have been avoided if the Winco helicopter pilot had used a different type of long-line, or rope. Court documents also said there wasn't a spotter on the ground during the incident and a co-pilot wasn't present.
Although the incident took place in Louisiana, court proceedings were in Marion County Circuit Court due to the helicopter company’s location in Aurora.