2016-1-6 / Front Page

Passenger Claims Airline Negligence In LaGuardia ‘Nosedive’ Crash

By Liz Goff
A 57-year-old Dutchess County man last week filed a negligence lawsuit against Southwest Airlines seeking unspecified damages for injuries he suffered in 2013 crash at LaGuardia Airport.

Upstate chiropractor Kenneth Kochman, said he initially thought he had walked away unscathed, but later needed spinal surgery to repair a serious back injury he suffered in the July 22, 2013 “nosedive” crash landing of the Southwest airliner.

Investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) later determined that pilot error caused the plane’s front landing gear collapse upon landing at LaGuardia. The landing sheared off the plane’s front wheel, causing the Boeing 737 to skid across LaGuardia Runway 4 on its belly, with sparks and flames shooting skyward.

Eyewitnesses told investigators the landing gear broke on impact. “A tire blew off the plane and flew to the left, and when the nose made impact with the ground sparks flew,” an eyewitness said.

Law enforcement sources said passengers told investigators there was a big ‘bump,’ like the plane hit a wall. People screamed and cell phones – everything went flying. The oxygen masks fell from their compartments and nobody knew what was happening. Eyewitne4sses said.

A final NTSB report said the nose of the plane slammed into the runway, causing the plane to skid 2,500 feet on its belly before it slid to the right and stopped just short of a fence leading to the Bowery Bay. The report said eight people were slightly injured in the crash.

Southwest Airlines Flight 345 from Nashville was due to land at LaGuardia at about 6 p.m. on July 22, 2013, with 149 passengers and crewmembers on board when the nose crashed on the runway, authorities said.

Emergency responders at the Port Authority Rescue Firefighting Unit rushed to the plane immediately after impact ad escorted passengers from the chutes to a secured section of the airport, authorities said.

LaGuardia general manager Tom Bosco said there was no indication of a problem with the nose gear before landing. “There were no radio calls saying the landing gear was not working,” Bosco said.

Kochman’s attorney, Hunter Shkolnik said his client was ready to “kiss the ground” thankful he was alive and appeared uninjured when he exited the plane. Shikolnik said Kochman can now barely bend over to reach the ground, due to injuries he suffered in the hard landing.

A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines declined to comment on the lawsuit, filed on December 27 in Queens Supreme Court.

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