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2007 Balloon Accident at RV Park Goes to Court

January 11, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

A British Columbia Supreme Court civil trial will decide some of the legal claims and counter claims swirling around the Aug. 24, 2007, hot air balloon crash in South Surrey that killed Langley mother and daughter Shannon and Jemma Knackstedt, the Langley Times reported.

The case has been scheduled for three days beginning Feb. 14 in Vancouver.

August Knackstedt, husband of Shannon and father of Jemma, is suing several parties, including the owner and operator of the balloon, the balloon pilot, the man who maintained the balloon and the attorney general of Canada on behalf of air safety regulatory agency Transport Canada.

The attorney general has applied to have the lawsuit against Transport Canada thrown out, arguing it is unreasonable.

The other parties being sued are expected to make similar arguments at the February hearing.

The Langley mother and daughter died after the Aerostar S77A they were passengers in caught fire during takeoff preparations at the Hazelmere RV Park & Campground.

Other passengers suffered various injuries when they jumped from the flaming basket as it rose.

Court records appear to show that at least one of those injured passengers, Aldergrove resident Dean Ziyone, has reached an out-of-court settlement with the same group of parties named in the Knackstedt case.

A consent order was filed in the Supreme Court Vancouver on Dec. 23 that shows Ziyone and the people he was suing have jointly agreed to dismiss his court action, something that usually indicates an out-of-court agreement has been negotiated.

Ziyone’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

Ziyone suffered a broken pelvis when he leaped from the burning balloon as it began to rapidly rise.

His mother and father, who jumped out before Ziyone did, suffered less serious injuries.

Investigators determined a substantial fuel leak caused the uncontrolled blaze in the vessel’s cockpit.

The Transportation Safety Board’s final report on the crash, released last September, made recommendations including the use of emergency shutoff valves on propane tanks and better monitoring to ensure such balloons continue to meet safety standards.

Nearly two dozen suits and countersuits have been filed in connection with the tragedy.

Most of the surviving passengers have filed suit, as have the Knackstedt family and owners of the mobile homes that were destroyed when the basket crashed.

The owner-operator of the RV park is also seeking damages.

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