Families of victims settle lawsuits in Gary Knopp mid-air collision over Soldotna
The families of the victims of a 2020 mid-air crash over Soldotna have reached a settlement, according to one of the family’s lawyers – ending a series of multiple lawsuits over the collision that killed the representative of the state at the time, Gary Knopp, and six others.
The settlement comes more than two years after the Republican lawmaker’s private plane collided with a charter plane in July 2020, killing all four passengers, guide and pilot on board.
Michael Schneider, a lawyer for one of the families, said the terms of the settlement reached a few weeks ago were confidential.
“The parties were able to reach an agreement. And it wasn’t easy, it took a long time,” he said. “But it allows everyone involved to end the case, get closure, and move on with their lives downstream.”
Last year, representatives for four of the victims, Kristen Wright, Caleb Hulsey, MacKay Hulsey and Heather Hulsey, all of South Carolina, filed two separate federal lawsuits against Knopp’s estate and his widow, Helen Knopp. Both lawsuits also targeted the estate of Gregory Bell, the charter pilot who also died in the accident, and the two companies that owned and operated the charter aircraft.
The complaints alleged that Knopp was negligent as he flew without a medical certificate. Knopp was denied certification in 2012 due to vision issues.
Schneider, the attorney, said the settlement consolidates those lawsuits and there is no ongoing litigation. Blaine Gilman, an attorney for Knopp, declined to comment.
The estate of the guide who died in the crash, David Rogers, also sued Knopp’s estate. And Knopp’s widow filed a counter-complaint against the charter company, High Adventure Air Charters, of Soldotna. High Adventure Air Charters owners Marc and Sandy Bell are now trying to sell their business, according to their website.
A separate lawsuit, between the guide and the charter plane operators, has already been settled out of court.
The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to release its final analysis of the accident.
An 11-page board report, released in August, outlines some of the factors that may have contributed, though it stops short of indicating a probable cause.
NTSB Regional Chief Clint Johnson said a determination of the cause would be included in the final report on the crash, which he said would be released “soon”.