POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – The family of a woman who died after a Broward Sheriff’s Office helicopter crashed into a Pompano Beach apartment building nearly one month ago is taking legal action.
The family of Lurean Wheaton has asked the agency for up to $50 million in damages.
Wheaton, 65, was killed Aug. 28 as she slept in her own bed when the chopper crashed through her ceiling. Her boyfriend survived by chance after making a random trip to the restroom.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office previously offered to pay for Wheaton’s funeral, but after initially declining the agency’s offer through the family’s attorney, the family has since decided to accept a reimbursement gesture, Local 10 News learned last month.
The Wheaton family’s attorneys referred to a 2017 report by Law Enforcement Aviation Consultants which found the helicopter “should have been replaced” by 2022.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said he had told the county for months that the helicopters in use by the department needed replacement.
On Wednesday, Tony responded to the lawsuit during an interview on News Radio 610 WIOD.
“Under the nature of the circumstances, it’s to be expected, and we’re not in opposition of the families pursuing a course they’d feel they’re entitled to, but we’re just going to let this process play out in court,” Tony said.
After the crash, Tony confirmed that 50-year-old Terryson Jackson, a Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue captain, also died.
“Unfortunately in the crash, he was trapped, could not get out, and we lost him,” said Tony at a press conference last month.
Tony said he had known Jackson personally for over 14 years and that Jackson had been with the agency for 19 years.
“Terryson was a rock star. He was one of the best of us, one of the brightest. He bled this profession inside and out all day long,” the sheriff said. “There’s almost 6,000 people in this agency. I’m not going to meet everybody and I haven’t, but that man I knew. I knew very well. And the type of effort and commitment he had for this community – impeccable.”
Pilot Daron Roche, 37, who has been with BSO for four years and firefighter/paramedic Mikael “Mike” Chaguaceda, 31, who has been with BSO for five years, were able to crawl out of the helicopter and survived their injuries.
A Miami-based law firm representing Chaguaceda, who was hurt in the crash, held a news conference Friday afternoon as they prepared to take legal action against at least one company.
The paramedic and his attorneys called for an investigation into a company involved in replacing the helicopter’s air conditioning unit, Metro Aviation of Shreveport, Louisiana and announced plans to file a lawsuit against it and potentially other companies suspected of negligence in the Aug. 28 crash.
Members of the FAA and the NTSB are investigating the circumstances leading up to the crash. Authorities said its investigations usually take about a year to complete.