Teton Aviation sued after fatal plane crash in 2018

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — The son of a man who died in a 2018 plane crash in Grand Teton National Park has filed a $3 million wrongful death lawsuit against Teton Aviation.

The complaint filed on June 8 claims that Teton Aviation failed to properly service the aircraft David Ross, 65, was in when he died and claims the company hired and retained “careless and dangerous pilots," the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported.

Pilot Kristine Ciesinski, 65, was taking Ross from Driggs, Idaho, to Teton County in June 2018 when the aircraft crashed in rocky and steep terrain above Icefloe Lake.

The plane wreckage was found 10,800 feet (3,290 meters) above sea level. Ciesinski also died in the crash.

The complaint argues that Ciesinski flew the glider in an unsafe, careless, or dangerous manner, including “being towed and released at an altitude that exceeded the certification and rating of the glider” and "flying too close to the mountainous terrain.”

The complaint claims Teton Aviation was negligent and responsible for the crash and death of Ross.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a report that video from Ross' cellphone was recovered and showed the glider was level with the top of Middle Teton before the crash.

In the recording Ciesinski could be heard saying “I’m in trouble” shortly before the recording ends, the report said.

“Review of weight and balance information revealed that, with the pilot and passenger onboard, the glider was within weight and balance limitations for the flight. Review of the glider’s maintenance records revealed no evidence of uncorrected mechanical discrepancies," the report said.

Employees at Teton Aviation confirmed Tuesday that glider flights were suspended after the accident and have not yet been resumed. Efforts to reach Teton Aviation manager Peter Kline were unsuccessful.