$26 Million Settlement In Crash Suit

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In what may be the largest settlement of its kind in North Carolina history, the family of a Concord, N.C., couple settled for a total of $26 million from four companies after the couple was killed by the post-crash fire when the Cessna 421 on which they were passengers went down in Mecklenburg County in 1999. David and Ann Drye, along with pilot Kelly Ward and another passenger, Mark Carlson, died after the pilot reported the right engine had failed. Teledyne Continental, the maker of the engine, was assessed $20 million of the settlement, while engine overhauler Ram Aircraft paid $3 million. Component supplier Vibratech was hit with $2.8 million and Stevens Aviation, which maintained the plane, paid $250,000. According to the NTSB report, metal fragments were found in the right engine's oil sump from the starter adapter needle bearing but "the right engine assembly did not exhibit any condition that would have prevented it from operating." The report does not name a cause for the crash but the position of the engine and prop controls might provide some insight as to why the aircraft didn't maintain flight. "The engine controls in the cockpit were found with both mixture controls full forward, both propeller controls full forward, the left throttle at idle, and the right throttle full forward," the report said. "The left and right engine mixture and throttle controls at the engine fuel controls were burned away. The left propeller governor control at the engine was found in the full rpm or takeoff position. The right propeller governor control at the engine had received impact damage and found near the propeller feather position."