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Family of woman killed in BSO helicopter crash seeking $50 million in damages

Family of woman killed when BSO helicopter crashed into her apartment is taking legal action
Family of woman killed when BSO helicopter crashed into her apartment is taking legal action 00:36

FORT LAUDERDALE - The family of a woman who died after a Broward Sheriff's Office helicopter crashed into a Pompano Beach apartment building is taking legal action.

Lurean Wheaton's family has asked the agency for up to $50 million in damages.

Wheaton, 65, was sleeping when the helicopter crashed into her apartment nearly a month ago.

BSO chopper crash
A picture of the chopper bought by the Broward sheriff's office. Special

The Wheaton family's attorneys point to a 2017 report by Law Enforcement Aviation Consultants which found the helicopter "should have been replaced" by 2022. Sheriff Gregory Tony had been insistent for months that the helicopters in use by the department needed replacement.

In a preliminary report, the NTSB found the helicopter's fire warning light illuminated and the temperature gauge kept increasing shortly before the crash.

Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Terryson Jackson, 50, was also killed in the crash.

Mikael Chaguaceda
Mikael Chaguaceda, a paramedic who survived a crash involving a Broward Fire Rescue helicopter, spoke to reporters on Sept. 22, 2023. CBS News Miami

The pilot Daron Roche and Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue paramedic Mikael Chaguaceda survived the crash. Last week, Chaguaceda said he intended to file a lawsuit, seeking damages and answers about what caused the deadly crash.

On Aug. 28, shortly before 9 a.m., the twin-engine Broward County Fire-Rescue helicopter took off from Pompano Beach Air Park to respond to an emergency call.

After hearing a loud boom during the initial climb, Chaguaceda feared the worst.

"Lots of funny noises were going on," he said. "The smell of fire. We never heard anything like that, so, we knew it was catastrophic."

Witness video showed smoke funneling out as the chopper flew back to the air park. During the chopper's return, he remembered hearing a second boom.

"The tail rotor instantly snapped off," Chaguaceda said. "And even though those spins must have been a couple of seconds, they felt like minutes. Every single thought I had was my son, my family. How is this going to be explained to my son."

The chopper crashed into the roof of an apartment building. The NTSB has not yet determined what caused the fire. Its investigations usually take about a year to complete.

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