Teenager Sues Pilot Over Freak Ferris Wheel Plane Crash Which Has Left Her With Fear Of Show Rides
Courtesy of Sarah Crawford, Daily Telegraph, 23 October 2015.
A teenage girl who was on a ferris wheel when a light plane crashed into it is suing the festival, the council and the pilot for psychological harm saying she now has an intense fear of show-rides and has even attempted suicide.
Amber Arndell, then 13, was seated with her little brother Jessie, then 9, when a twin-seater Cheetah S200 crashed into the ferris wheel close to their gondola, at the Old Bar Beach Festival, on the mid-north coast on October 1, 2011.
The children weren’t physically harmed in the freak crash but they remained trapped in their gondola for hours in the cold until they were eventually rescued by crane.
Amber Arndell and brother Jessie (top left) with pilot Paul Cox and John Rowan trapped in cockpit. Suing… Amber Arndell with her autistic brother Jesse
The pilot Paul Cox, 54 and his 32-year-old son-in-law John Rowan amazingly survived the crash and were rescued with minor injuries.
Ms Arndell, now 18, has lodged a claim for up to $750,000 in damages in the Sydney District Court against the Old Bar Beach Festival for allowing the ferris wheel to be erected close to the airstrip where Mr Cox was attempting to land his plane. She is also suing Greater Taree Council, for approving the event, and Mr Cox for failing to observe and operate the plane to avoid the ferris wheel.
Meanwhile, Mr Cox is suing the council, the festival and the Old Bar Heritage Airport Management Committee, while Mr Rowan is suing his father-in-law and the festival.
The children inside the gondola as pilot Paul Cox and his son-in-law remain trapped in cockpit. Aerial photo taken shortly after the terrifying crash.
Ms Arndell’s lawyer, Justin Stack said his client was struggling to cope following the accident.
“Amber has had a really hard time since the accident she suffers from depression, anxiety, has panic attacks and is struggling to get on with her life after what happened. Some sort of compensation is definitely owed to her,” he said.
The Statement of Claim says the ferris wheel was set up 161m south of the centre line of the airstrip, and “infringed into the obstacle clearance area for take-off and landings” as set out by the Australian Civil Aviation Authority.
An investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau concluded Mr Cox was not skilled enough for the environment he was flying in.
The ATSB also found that the Old Bar Beach Festival Committee was ineffective in managing the risk of aviation operation at the event.
The report says since the crash the festival and airstrip committee have agreed to suspend flights during the festival.
The three civil suits were adjourned until February 25 for further directions.