Oahu Parachute Center, its owner, and many others were recently named in a lawsuit over the fatal 2019 plane crash that killed 11 people.
It’s been about two years since 11 people were killed in a skydive plane crash on Oahu’s North Shore. Now, representatives for five of those victims are suing “Oahu Parachute Center and owner George Rivera, Hawaii Parachute Center, State of Hawaii, aircraft owner N80896, William Garcia, Robert Perez Seladis, as well as 70 individuals and entities who could not be identified by the plaintiffs.”
The suit claims Oahu Parachute Center “breached its duty of care through negligent acts by operating the plane in a reckless and unsafe manner, failing to maintain that the plane was in airworthy condition, failing to properly train pilots and mechanics of the plane, and other reasons.” Additionally, the lawsuit claims that before the crash, which occurred on June 21, 2019, Oahu Parachute Center and Hawaii Parachute Center had received many complaints about the unsafe and dangerous skydiving operations being conducted.
When asked about the tragedy back in 2019, Rivera said he “received verbal approval from the Department of Transportations (DOT) to operate skydiving activities.” However, the suit argues the verbal approval “was contrary to governing rules.” Also, it’s important to note that the plane involved in the accident “had partially come apart in mid-air over the San Francisco Bay Area in 2016.” After that particular incident, the plane “underwent major repair while owned and operated by N80896, LLC, individually and doing business under the fictitious name of Skydive Sacramento.”
After the repair, the plane was leased to Hawaii Parachute Center and Rivera, and from “June 18, 2017 through June 21, 2019, the plane was operated in Hawaii.” When asked why he leased the plane knowing that it was damaged in California, Rivera said:
“Because when I first saw the airplane, it was disassembled in a hanger in California and they were rebuilding the entire empennage in the aircraft, rebuilt with brand new cables, the whole thing was being rebuilt…I thought to myself, this is a good airplane. First of all, the FAA would never have let it fly across the ocean if it wasn’t in tip-top shape, they would never do it. So the airplane had to pass all its phase inspections…You know, so it’s not like it was in bad shape, there were never any complaints during the entire operating procedure…To this day we don’t know exactly what happened.”
The lawsuit alleges that, despite the repair, the “plane was still dangerous due to a list of conditions that made it unsafe to fly.” It further argues that “Seladis, one of the defendants, performed the repair and maintenance of that plane on numerous occasions during these years, and despite his repair work, the plane still crashed on June 21, 2019.”
When asked if he could have done anything differently that might have prevented the crash, Rivera said, “I don’t know, I don’t think so…because our policies and our procedures that I put in place were right on.”