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Outer Banks Plane Crash Wrongful Death Lawsuit Ends in Multimillion Dollar Settlement for Several Families

The Outer Banks

Weeds blow in the wind on the beach in Kill Devil Hills North Carolina’s Outer Banks. (Image via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

The family members of five passengers killed during a February 2022 plane crash off North Carolina’s Outer Banks region have settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $15 million.

The crash killed eight people, including four teenagers who were heading home from a hunting trip. Two adults traveling with the teenagers also died, as did the pilot and his adult son, who was a pilot in training.

The settlement was reached on behalf of Noah Lee Styron, 16; Michael Daily Shepherd, 15; Jacob Nolan Taylor, 17; Jonathan Kole McInnis, 16; and Stephanie Fulcher, 42, McInnis’ mother.

According to the lawsuit, the doomed pilot and an air traffic controller engaged in a series of back-and-forth transmissions about the plane veering into restricted, and active, military airspace.

Eventually, the two lost contact. Then regained it. Later, the aircraft began an odd and rapid climb. Then the radar went dark. And minutes later, the single-engine Pilatus PC-12/47 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

The crash happened at 2 p.m. on Feb.13, 2022, near Drum Inlet and the Cape Lookout seashore. The aircraft had gone wheels up at Hyde County airport at 1:35 p.m. and was heading toward Beaufort, N.C.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary accident report confirmed that the plane was in the process of a steep ascent at an altitude of 4,700 feet before contact was lost.

On Monday, Feb. 14, 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that the plane had crashed. That day, Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck held a news conference to note that one body had been found and there was no indication that anyone survived.

The lawsuit was filed in May 2022 against EDP Management Group LLC and Green Assets, both of which are based in Wilmington, N.C., Dillon’s Aviation, which is based in Greenville, N.C., and the estate of pilot Ernest “Teen” Durwood Rawls. Only EDP Management, Green Assets, and the Rawls estate are part of the settlement.

According to the lawsuit, the plane entered restricted air space in bad weather with no visibility and the pilot became spatially disoriented.

“The families filed these lawsuits to get answers and hold accountable the companies and individuals whose negligence led to this tragedy,” attorney Andrew C. Robb of Robb & Robb LLC, told Law&Crime in an emailed statement. “The families are grateful that this phase of their lawsuits has come to a close, and they will now continue the difficult process of trying to rebuild their lives.”

An aviation attorney, Robb also represented Vanessa Bryant in her wrongful death lawsuit for the helicopter crash that killed her husband and Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

Dismissals were filed by the families’ attorneys in Carteret County Court on Thursday.

“This crash was entirely preventable,” Robb previously told Law&Crime.

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