Widow files suit after husband dies in helicopter crash

David Yates Dec. 14, 2010, 8:00am

Two years ago, Joseph Laugelle Jr. died when the helicopter he was piloting lost power and crashed while en route to an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Representing his estate and on behalf of his child, Susan Laugelle filed suit on Dec. 10 in Jefferson County District Court against the companies she claims are responsible for his death.

The defendants in the suit include the Bristow Group, Air Logistics, H-S Tools & Parts and Cadorath Aerospace.

Court papers show that Laugelle, an experienced pilot with more than 3,450 hours of total piloting time, found employment in Sabine Pass transporting passengers back and forth to the oil rigs off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

On Dec. 11, 2008, Laugelle was piloting a Bell 2064-4 helicopter when it experienced catastrophic loss of engine power and crashed en route from Sabine Pass to an offshore rig.

"Laugelle was killed as a result of the crash and suffered crushed chest injuries and asphyxia due to drowning," the suit states. "An examination of the wreckage confirms that the engine was under virtually no power ... a product of wear and deterioration of engine components and parts caused by inadequate maintenance."

The suit accuses of the defendants of negligently failing to maintain the helicopter in working order and of failing to properly certify it as airworthy.

The plaintiffs are suing to recover all wrongful death damages allowable under law.

They are represented by Austin attorney Mark Pierce of Slack & Davis.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B188-949

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