The NTSB concluded that the firm, whose Pacific Northwest office is in Merlin, deliberately understated the weight of its Sikorsky. That, along with lapses in safety oversight by federal agencies, resulted in the crash, it said.
The deadliest helicopter crash involving working firefighters in U.S. history killed firefighters David Steele, 19, Ashland; Shawn Blazer, 30, Medford; Scott Charlson, 25, Phoenix; Matthew Hammer, 23, Grants Pass; Edrik Gomez, 19, Ashland; Bryan Rich, 29, Medford; and Steven "Caleb" Renno, 21, Cave Junction.
Command pilot Roark Schwanenberg, 54, of Lostine, and check pilot Jim Ramage, 63, of Redding, Calif., also died. Ramage was a U.S. Forest Service employee.
Coultas was seriously injured along with local firefighters Richard Schroeder Jr., Jonathan Frohreich and Michael Brown. All of the firefighters were employed by Grayback Forestry Inc. of Merlin.
Both the Coultas and Schwanenberg families have sued General Electric and its parent company, United Technology, as well as Sikorsky and Columbia Helicopters, citing engine failure, among other things, as the cause of the deadly crash.