TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit are claiming gross negligence caused a Tyler plane crash that killed a pilot and an East Texas pastor.
The lawsuit was filed by Preston Burton on behalf of Pastor Trevor Morris’ estate and surviving family members, including his parents, his widow and five children.
Morris, 39, of Murchison, and pilot William Robert Walls III, 62, of Huntsville, were killed in July 2017 when the plane they were in crashed shortly after takeoff from Tyler Pounds Regional Airport.
The lawsuit names three East Texas companies as defendants: First AV Group of Henderson County, Flare Air of Rusk County, and East Texas H.S.I. of Smith County, as well the Sonja Lynne Walls on behalf of William Walls’ estate.
The lawsuits seeks a jury trial and damages in excess of $1 million.
According to the lawsuit, the plane’s right engine failed during take-off, forcing Walls to take emergency action. “Walls was beyond the point where he could about the takeoff so he needed to proceed with take off, get the aircraft under control, and land so as to assess the situation,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that under proper procedures a competent pilot would be able to control the plane through takeoff and landing with one engine. But according to the lawsuit, “Walls failed to properly control the aircraft and crashed into a nearby field.”
The lawsuit shows First AV Group and Flare Air hired Walls to pilot the Piper PA-31. It alleges both companies knew Walls was “inexperienced with this aircraft” and “despite this, they approved Walls to pilot the aircraft.”
The lawsuit also claims First AV Group and Flare Air contracted with East Texas H.S.I to provide maintenance and inspections of the plane that crashed.
The lawsuit claims the defendants failed to control the aircraft, failed to react properly to an emergency, failed to properly operate the plane, failed to retain a competent pilot and failed to properly inspect and maintain the plane.
Burton is president of Burton Oil Service Operations and part owner of the plane. Morris was the Vice President of Burton Oil Services. Morris was flying from Tyler to Midland on business at the time of the crash. Morris was a pastor at Union Hill Baptist Church in Brownsboro.
Walls was a member of The Ark Church in Conroe and a retired Southwest Airlines pilot.