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Family Of Man Killed In Midair Crash Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Firefighters look at debris from a mid-air plane crash, Aug. 17, 2015.
Firefighters look at debris from a mid-air plane crash, Aug. 17, 2015.

The family of a Qualcomm executive killed when the Cessna he was piloting collided in midair with a Saberliner jet while approaching Brown Field has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming the deadly crash was due to negligence on the part of an air traffic control company and others.

Michael Copeland was killed last Aug. 16, along with four people on the jet.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court, names New Jersey-based Serco Inc., which contracted with the U.S. government to provide air traffic control services at Brown Field; Mark Demetris, a Serco employee who managed all air traffic control services at Brown Field; and Maryland-based BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services, which owned and operated the Sabreliner jet, and employed its deceased pilots.


According to the plaintiffs' attorneys, the control tower at Brown Field had communicated with the pilots of both planes prior to the crash. The Saberliner jet was cleared to land and was on approach, while Copeland's Cessna — cleared to perform touch and go landings and takeoffs, was flying to the Otay Mesa airport on a downwind lag.

"We believe the air traffic controllers failed to maintain a proper, safe distance between the two aircrafts," said plaintiffs' attorney David S. Casey Jr. "Additionally, the jet was approaching from above and behind the Cessna, and due to its position, should have been able to clearly see the smaller plane.

"The lawsuit alleges that all the defendants were careless and failed to maintain situational awareness over the status of the Cessna, ultimately resulting in Copeland's tragic death."

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