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Coast Guard dismisses case against copter crash survivor

Becky Bohrer

The U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday dismissed negligent homicide and other charges against the sole survivor of a 2010 helicopter crash off the Washington coast.

The decision in the case of Lt. Lance Leone was in line with the recommendations of an investigating officer, who oversaw a three-day military hearing in December. Leone was the co-pilot of the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter flying from Astoria, Ore., to the crew's base in Sitka, when it crashed off the Washington coast in July 2010.

Leone, upon hearing the news at work, "started cheering and was extremely happy for this long-awaited day," his attorney, John Smith, told The Associated Press. Leone also said he needed to tell his wife, who is expecting the couple's third child.

Leone was charged with negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and destruction of government property stemming from the crash, which killed pilot Sean Krueger, of Connecticut, and crewmen Brett Banks, of Wyoming, and Adam C. Hoke, of Montana.

Leone, who has earned a long list of Coast Guard awards and accolades, was the sole survivor. He had recovered from his injuries and been cleared for flight re-training when he was charged last year.

The charge sheet alleged Leone failed to properly navigate the helicopter to avoid charted hazards and that he negligently failed to ensure it was flying at a higher altitude. Leone was accused of not actively navigating or challenging Krueger's decision to drop in altitude seconds before the helicopter hit the 1,900-foot span of wires and crashed.


By BECKY BOHRER
Associated Press