Lawsuits, investigation linger in Vein Guys crash

Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013 6:28 PM
Last updated Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 1:17 PM
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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.

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The land where a private jet carrying five members of the Vein Guys staff went down is seen after the Feb. 20 crash. The plane struck a 60-foot utility pole and caught fire after aborting a landing.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
The land where a private jet carrying five members of the Vein Guys staff went down is seen after the Feb. 20 crash. The plane struck a 60-foot utility pole and caught fire after aborting a landing.

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.

ABOUT THE SERIES

SATURDAY: The merger of Georgia Health Sciences and Augusta State universities became official in 2013, but not without its share of controversies.

SUNDAY: A federal judge ended the Richmond County school system’s desegregation order after 40 years.

TODAY: Five members of Evans-based vein procedures company The Vein Guys, including co-founder Steven Roth, were killed in a Feb. 20 plane crash at Thomson-McDuffie County Airport.

TUESDAY: The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office wanted to address traffic concerns in 2013 with Operation Thunder, and it did, to the chagrin of many motorists.

WEDNESDAY: The city’s transition to once-a-week garbage, recycling and yard waste collection did not go smoothly.

THURSDAY: After a dozen years in the making, the 38,000-square-foot Augusta Convention Center opened in February.

DEC. 27: Safety concerns after high-profile assaults and a proposed slum designation catapulted downtown Augusta back into the spotlight in 2013.

DEC. 28: Delays in consultations led to the deaths of three cancer patients at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.

DEC. 29: North Augusta officials approved a $144 million public-private development that would include a baseball stadium for the Augusta GreenJackets.

DEC. 30: Rain played havoc with farmers, event planners and others in record-setting fashion.

DEC. 31: After a year of discontent over his performance, Augusta Commission members fired longtime city administrator Fred Russell in December.

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wondersnevercease
9218
Points
wondersnevercease 12/23/13 - 07:56 am
0
0
slow
Unpublished

Slow news day?

DANAHGUE
3
Points
DANAHGUE 12/23/13 - 09:04 am
1
5
Plane crash

Shame on you Jenna Martin for publishing this article before the holidays. Where is the respect for the families of the deceased? Since your series go through the 31st you could have waited until after the holidays.

my.voice
5180
Points
my.voice 12/23/13 - 10:56 am
0
2
^ THIS ^

^ THIS ^

GiantsAllDay
10545
Points
GiantsAllDay 12/23/13 - 03:06 pm
0
2
I think it would have been

I think it would have been better to decide to file a lawsuit AFTER the NTSB report comes out.

soapy_725
44131
Points
soapy_725 12/23/13 - 03:18 pm
1
0
Nothing is muddled. It's a coverup. Plausible deniability.
Unpublished

Nothing is muddled. It is a coverup. Plausible deniability.

soapy_725
44131
Points
soapy_725 12/23/13 - 03:14 pm
1
0
I don't know what happened, therfore I am not responsible. Works
Unpublished

It works when you have good lawyers.

soapy_725
44131
Points
soapy_725 12/23/13 - 03:16 pm
1
0
The pilots survive, but we don't know what happened. BS BS
Unpublished

Pilots overshot the runway for some reason. They and GOD knows why.

soapy_725
44131
Points
soapy_725 12/23/13 - 03:17 pm
1
0
Pilots overshot the runway for some reason. They & GOD know
Unpublished

Their lawyers are saying, "don't say a word". Plausible deniability.

IBeDogGone
3015
Points
IBeDogGone 12/23/13 - 07:04 pm
0
1
Poor Taste

I have to agree this should not have been published during the holidays. There was nothing new to report and only stirred up memories for anyone involved.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 12/28/13 - 11:47 am
1
0
Pilot error is quite probable here...

We have an aircraft that made the short flight with no problems. The most likely scenario here is that the pilots themselves did not reset the altimeter to reflect the change in altitude/barometric pressure from the originating airport when initiating their approach into Thomsom. This oversight usually results in an "overshoot" of the runway and a "go-around" which, in most cases, is performed without further consequence or damage to the aircraft. However, In this case we have a large tower, a building and trees that got in the way of the "go-around". Granted, the end of the runway is the LAST place a transmission tower, trees or a building should be placed. It was common knowledge that they were there and the pilots are ultimately responsible for the safe flight of the aircraft. Barring the findings of mechanical failure, pilot error would be the most likely cause of the crash. I also agree with the posters that this story should not have been ran within the holiday season. Pretty callus of the reporter considering this is the victims' first holiday without their loved ones.

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