$10 Million Awarded to Family of Pilot Who Died in Bell Helicopter Crash, Attorneys Say

Jan. 20, 2023

A $10 million settlement has been awarded to the family of a man who was killed in a Bell helicopter crash in 2021, the law office of Slack Davis Sanger said Thursday in a news release.

The pilot, 49-year-old Heath Coleman, was fighting a wildfire in Alberta, Canada, when a main rotor hub strap retaining pin on his Bell 212 failed during flight.

Investigators later found that the pin was made from steel that did not meet design specification standards, according to the release. The pin was manufactured by Fore Aero in Haltom City.

“Our client was a very skilled pilot and had safely flown in far more dangerous conditions,” attorney Ladd Sanger said in the release. “The defective shear pin and the lack of quality control in the manufacturing process resulted in the death of a very experienced pilot and family member under routine flying conditions. This tragedy should have never happened.”

At the time of the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration said the pin had only been in service for 20 hours before it failed.

The FAA and its counterpart agency in Canada grounded 529 Bell helicopters worldwide — including 359 in the United States — so they could be inspected for faulty rotor pins.

The helicopter manufacturer, Bell Textron Inc., is based in Fort Worth.

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