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Snowmobile rider sues military after hitting Black Hawk helicopter in 2019

Jeff Smith collided with a Black Hawk helicopter while riding his snowmobile on the night of March 2019. He is now suing the government for $9.5 million in damages.

Smith collided with the tail of the helicopter and has lost the use of his left arm, and has not been able to work full-time since, according to reports. He wants the government to pay nearly $10 million to cover his medical bills and lost wages for the incident.

A Massachusetts man who crashed into a Black Hawk helicopter is suing the military for $9.5 million in damages after it parked without warning on a popular snowmobile trail that is also part of a runway for the government. (Photo credit: Associated Press)

According to a Business Insider report, Smith hopes to use the money to get an electronically controlled brace fitted that would help him regain some movement in his left arm.

“It would change my life,” he told Business Insider. “I would certainly be able to function, and it would be easier to do the daily activities of daily life like brushing my teeth, taking out the trash, and opening the door with one hand.”

He says the last five years have been a struggle with ongoing surgeries and rehab that has made it difficult to work.

The case alleges the Black Hawk crew was negligent in parking the helicopter on a rarely-used airfield that snowmobilers also share as part of a trail system. He also says they did not warn anyone about the aircraft’s presence on the popular snowmobile trail.

The government has blamed the accident on Smith due to his excessive speed of 65 mph and that he drank two beers while taking prescription medication before the accident. It also says the government can’t be sued under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Following an internal inquiry into the incident, the U.S. Army released a report saying it found “no negligence by the crew” and expressing doubt whether lighting would have prevented the crash.

Sources: Business Insider, AP

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