The answer to what caused a Thomson plane crash that killed five members of the Vein Guys staff remains muddled more than 10 months later.
The fiery crash is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. Such cases can take up to a year to complete, the NTSB has said.
On Feb. 20, the Beechcraft 390 Premier carrying Vein Guys co-owner Dr. Steven Roth and clinic staff Kim Davidson, Heidi McCorkle, Tiffany Porter and Lisa Volpitto crashed in a wooded area near the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport after the landing was aborted.
According to investigators, the plane went airborne at the end of the runway and hit the top of a 60-foot concrete utility pole. The left wing was sheared off, causing a fuel leak, which led to a fire.
The group, including two pilots, was returning from a vascular surgery practice in Nashville, Tenn. Pilots Richard Trammell and Jeremy Hayden were injured but survived.
The Vein Guys, based in Evans, briefly closed all four regional branches after the crash but reopened its local facility after 2½ weeks.
The Vein Guys, officially named The Vein Care Pavilion of the South, was started in 2004 by Roth, a vascular surgeon, and Dr. Keith Davis, a plastic surgeon who died in 2010. The company started with a center in Evans and grew to a team of four doctors and a dozen support staff, with offices in the Nashville, Tenn.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Atlanta metro areas.
As a result of the crash, the company put Columbia County property on the market in August for $1.4 million. The 2.5-acre parcel is at 7008 Evans Town Center Boulevard, next to Evans Towne Center Park. In 2008, Davis had envisioned building a four-story, 35,000-square-foot modern medical and professional center there.
In recent months, the families of those killed have filed civil suits against several parties, including the airport’s operators, the city of Thomson, McDuffie County and Roth’s estate. According to the Atlanta-based legal journal Daily Report, four
lawsuits filed Sept. 9 in Fulton County Superior Court claim that negligence led to the crash.
Also named as defendants are Georgia Power Co. and parent company Southern Company Services; Milliken & Co., owner of the Kingsley Plant at the end of the runway that had granted easement for the power pole; and The Sky’s The Limit doing business as Executive Shuttle, which was owned by Trammell and employed both pilots.
A copy of one lawsuit alleged that the utility pole was too tall and inappropriately lit and that the transmission lines were too high. The suit also states that allowing trees to be planted in the airport’s “safe zone” was negligent, and it found fault in the proper maintenance and service of the privately-owned plane.
In addition, The Pavilion Group, Roth and the two pilots are blamed for having enabled “impaired,” “unqualified,” or “inadequately trained pilots” to operate the plane.
The two pilots, Trammell and Hayden, have also filed suit in Fulton County against the city of Thomson, McDuffie County, Georgia Power and Milliken & Co.