Heli company must pay $14.6M after 2 workers fall to death

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A jury has decided that an Oregon helicopter company must pay $14.6 million to the families of two California men who plummeted to their deaths when a nylon rope suspending them from a helicopter in Louisiana broke.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports jurors found Winco Powerline Services of Aurora responsible for the multimillion-dollar verdict after 26-year-old Travis Chiokai and 27-year-old Nicholas Gamalski died Nov. 7, 2017.

Winco Powerline Services transports workers and equipment for the powerline construction industry.

Portland attorney John Coletti, who represented Gamalski’s estate, said the pilot rubbed the rope against an abrasive, braided metal line that serves as a lightning rod of sorts and that caused the rope holding the two men to sever.

Coletti said the catastrophe could have been avoided if the pilot had used a rope covered in Kevlar.

Winco Powerline Services didn’t dispute it was at fault. It asked a jury to decide how much in damages it was responsible for.

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Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com