The flight company being sued for wrongful death has filed its answer in the lawsuit, saying it isn’t responsible for the 2018 deaths of a pilot and customer.
“No act or omission of defendants was done intentionally, willfully, with malice, reckless indifference or reckless disregard towards the safety of others,” the court records state, “and therefore any award of punitive damages is barred.”
The son of the man who died in the 2018 scenic glider accident in Grand Teton National Park is suing Teton Aviation, listed as Teton Avjet LLC in the lawsuit.
The complaint, filed in Teton County District Court on June 8, claims Teton Aviation Center failed to properly service the aircraft David J. Ross was in when he died and claims the company hired and retained “careless and dangerous pilots.”
Ross, 65, of Salt Lake City, was on a scenic trip with pilot Kristine Ciesinski, 65, of Victor, Idaho, on June 9, 2018, when the aircraft crashed between the Middle Teton and South Teton, above Icefloe Lake.
They left that day from Teton Aviation Center in Driggs, Idaho. Around noon they were reported overdue to the Teton Interagency Dispatch center.
“Teton Avjet personnel attempted to reach the glider pilot via radio but allege they did so within an hour of when the glider was supposed to return,” the defendants’ answer states.
It goes on to say that the plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages is frivolous. It also says Ross signed a preinjury release, “which bars all claims against defendants.”
Teton Avjet asked the court to enter judgment in its favor. The answer was filed jointly by the aviation center and the estate of Kristine Ciesinski.
Both Ciesinski and Ross died in the wreck.
In an accident report, the National Transportation Safety Board states that it reviewed cellphone video on Ross’ phone that was recovered from the wreckage.
“After about two minutes the footage showed Middle Teton in front of the glider and off to the left; the flier was nearly level with the top of Middle Teton,” the report states. “The pilot stated, ‘this is not good.’ The glider then banked slightly right parallel to the ridgeline of Middle Teton.”
In the recording, Ciesinski can be heard saying “I’m in trouble” shortly before the recording ends, according to the report.
A cause of the crash is not listed.