Jury awards $16M to families of 4 crash victims

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — A jury has awarded $16 million to the families of four passengers who were killed in a December 2011 helicopter crash near Lake Mead.

The jurors ruled Friday against Sundance Helicopters Inc. in a wrongful death case filed by the families, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/XR3Rm2).

The people killed in the crash were Lovish Bhanot, 28, and Anupama Bhola, 26, a honeymooning couple from India; Delwin and Tamara Chapman, both 49, a couple from Utica, Kansas, who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary; and the 31-year-old pilot, Landon Nield.

Last year, the National Transportation Safety Board cited "inadequate maintenance" for the December 2011 crash of the Sundance Helicopters Inc. chopper during a scenic twilight tour of Hoover Dam and the Lake Mead reservoir on the Colorado River. Investigators found a crucial bolt may have been reused too many times and improperly installed, with the mistake not found during inspections.

"For almost three years the defendant, Sundance Helicopters Inc., has denied liability to these people for this helicopter crash," attorney Gary Robb told the Review-Journal after hearing the verdict. "They have refused to take responsibility."

Jurors deliberated about six hours before concluding that the company's negligence caused the four deaths, the Review-Journal reported.

"It was a tough call," juror Randy Peck said. Jurors struggled to place a dollar amount on the loss of life. Peck said.

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