GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — A pilot who snapped power lines while flying through a western Colorado canyon in a former Warsaw Pact-era military training jet says the utility that owned the lines is to blame for the accident.
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported Saturday that pilot Brian Evans named Xcel Energy in a response to a federal lawsuit filed by a man who claims he was injured in the 2015 incident. A co-defendant, Raymond Mez Davoudi, who was a passenger in the jet, made the same claim, the Sentinel said.
Xcel, which maintained seven cables snapped by the aircraft, says it isn’t party to the lawsuit and declined further comment.
Steve Centofanti’s lawsuit says he was driving west on Interstate 70 in the canyon when he spotted the rapidly approaching aircraft at low altitude. He says his vehicle was hit by whipping power lines after they were snapped by the Aero L-39C jet.
Centofanti also claims his hearing was damaged by roar of the jet’s engine as it blasted skyward after snapping the cables.
Several other vehicles on the interstate were struck by the cables.
Evans and Davoudi argued in their responses that Xcel should have marked the cables crossing the canyon and this should be liable for any damages awarded Centofani.
Evans, a former U.S. Marine Corps pilot, and Davoudi had taken off from Grand Junction Regional Airport before the May 28, 2015, accident. They returned to Grand Junction in the damaged jet and landed without incident.
The Federal Aviation Administration revoked Evans’ pilot’s license after the incident. It said Evans was flying the jet less than 500 feet (150 meters) above the bottom of De Beque (de-BEK) Canyon, roughly 25 miles (45 kilometers) east of Grand Junction.
Evans, a former U.S. Marine Corps pilot, and Davoudi had taken off from Grand Junction Regional Airport that day. They returned to Grand Junction in the damaged jet and landed without incident.
The high-performance Aero Vodochody trainer was developed in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s. It no longer is in production but is used by several air forces and is in wide civilian use.
Information from: The Daily Sentinel, http://www.gjsentinel.com