Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – The sole survivor of a fatal helicopter crash that killed five people is suing the estates of the pilot and the billionaire who owned the aircraft, claiming the billionaire’s “James Bond” lifestyle contributed to the crash that killed her father.
Andra Cobb and her mother, Martha Cobb, both of Montgomery County in Texas, filed a lawsuit against Sapphire Aviation, and the estates of pilot Jamie Dodd and helicopter-owner Charles Burnett for the crash that killed five people near Raton in January 2018.
Andra Cobb was in a long-term romantic relationship with Burnett, who she met through her father, Paul Cobb, according to the complaint.
The crash victims included Paul Cobb, Zimbabwe politician Roy Bennett, his wife, Heather Bennett, Dodd and Burnett.
The lawsuit filed Dec. 11 in 1st Judicial District Court in Santa Fe seeks a jury trial and damages for the wrongful death of Paul Cobb and permanent injuries to Andra Cobb as a result of the crash.
Michael Lyons, co-counsel for Martha, David and Paul Cobb, said the family will never get over the tragedy.
“This shouldn’t have happened,” Lyons said in a phone interview. “This is a terrible tragedy and, fortunately, in our system of government in this country, you have a right to have a jury of your peers decide disputes like this.”
Lyons said he has no expectation for resolving the case through a settlement and is readying the case for trial.
Andra Cobb is being represented by different attorneys.
According to the lawsuit, “billionaire and international playboy” Burnett was taking the group to his ranch in the northern New Mexico community of Folsom for a party. Burnett allegedly ordered Dodd to fly the group from the Raton airport to his ranch after dark. The lawsuit states Burnett was “accustomed to issuing orders and having them followed,” and the ranch was used to host “elaborate parties and fuel his insatiable need for adventure.”
The group ultimately crashed 11 miles from the Raton airport on Blosser Gap Mesa. It took emergency responders two hours to reach the crash scene due to the remote location.
Blood tests from Dodd, who was flying the Vietnam-era “Huey” helicopter, showed he had diphenhydramine, a generic Benadryl, in his system at the time of the crash. A common side effect of Benadryl is drowsiness, according to the manufacturer.
The National Transportation Safety Board listed the cause of the crash as Dodd’s failure to fly at an adequate altitude above the mountainous terrain at night.
Dodd never flew the Huey from Raton to the ranch before in either night or day conditions, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit reported some of Dodd’s last words to be “it was my fault. I flew into the terrain … this is all my fault.”