Last week, a woman who was thrown from a plane in an aviation accident in Riverside, California succumbed to her injuries. Joanne Stacey Peirce was the fourth of five passengers on that plane to die.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Joanne Stacey Pierce, 46, had suffered severe burns to more than 90% of her body in the plane crash that took place on February 27. The mother of four had also had both legs amputated, and on Tuesday her injuries “became too overwhelming,” according to her husband, Richard Pierce.
Joanne Stacey Pierce had traveled from San Jose to Anaheim to watch her daughter, Brooke, participate in a cheerleading competition at Disneyland. Brooke traveled home with her friends, and Pierce boarded a Cessna T310Q piloted by her stepfather, 83-year-old Nouri Hijazi, for the short flight back to Riverside. Also on the flight were her mother, Dana Hijazi, 67, family friend Adine Ferales, 22, and her mother, Silvia Ferales, who also had a daughter in the cheer competition. Only Silvia Ferales survives.
According to the co-owner of the D&D Airport Café at Riverside Municipal Airport, Delmy Pennington, the plane appeared to struggle in the rain on the runway and the departure was initially delayed. When the plane finally took off after the rain stopped, Pennington said she was concerned because it appeared to be shaking.
At roughly 4:40 p.m., the plane crashed into multiple residences roughly one mile from the runway. Reports from the NTSB say that plane wreckage was found as far as 200 feet from the crash site, and parts of the plane were also found in a bedroom roughly 100 feet from the crash site. It has also been reported that Joanne Stacey Pierce was pulled out of a bedroom window by rescuers. No people on the ground were injured, though a family of five did lose their home after it was engulfed in flames.
MyNewsLA reports that the pilot, Nouri Hijazi, had a positive physical exam in October and had a long and successful aviation career. However, preliminary reports from the NTSB say that Hijazi appeared to be disoriented before taking off, and that he had trouble starting the plane’s engine. Air traffic controllers have also reported that Hijazi required verbal guidance to find the correct runway at the Riverside airport and that he appeared to have difficulty understanding their instructions.
When asked about this incident (which he did not witness) USC aviation instructor Glenn Winn told the Mercury News that a diligent pilot would have asked for a mechanic to inspect the plane after having difficulty starting the engines.
A full investigation into this plane crash will not be completed by the NTSB for up to 18 months, and in the meantime, victims’ families likely have numerous questions. How could the plane be allowed to take off when the pilot appeared disoriented and may have had engine trouble? Who was responsible for the maintenance of the doomed plane? Was there any negligence involved in this fatal aviation accident? If any of these factors played a role in the crash, it is possible that the survivor and families of the deceased may recover compensation for their suffering and damages. For more information on compensation in plane crash lawsuits, please contact our aviation accident attorneys for a free consultation.