Family pleads for safer airport

After watching her father, Bob Griffin, pulled from beneath a plane, Tawny Cooper knew something had to be done about the airplanes flying low over her East Carson City neighborhood.

She asked members of the Carson City Airport Authority on Wednesday to hurry up plans to realign the airport runway, a plan which would pull air traffic over an empty field instead of homes.

"When are you going to do something about this," she said. "My father was almost killed and my daughter was almost there with him."

Cooper and her father's Apollo Drive neighbor, Terry Marshall, told authority members planes fly into the neighborhood so low, people inside the planes are visible. At times, ducking for fear prevents Marshall from getting all the numbers from the plane necessary to report the low-flying plane to the proper authorities.

"We live in a dangerous area," Marshall said. "Bob is a result of that."

Griffin, 63, is recovering at the Carson Rehabilitation Center after a plane piloted by Kevin Jensen crashed into his back yard Sept. 1, pinning Griffin beneath it and breaking both legs.

Cooper said it could take up to six months before he is able to walk again. Family attorney Jack Kennedy said he is "looking at four different legal theories of liability" including airport liability. He declined to clarify, citing a lack of the accident report from the National Transportation and Safety Board.

Cooper said for her family, her father's recovery is their priority and challenge. She said she doesn't want to see the issue of airport safety "dissolve and disappear.

"I don't want this to happen to anybody else," she said. "A lot of people weren't there. They weren't under the plane. They didn't see what happened. It's all I wake up to, all I think about. My little girl has been through a lot. I don't want anybody else to get hurt."

Airport authority Chairman David Corrao said the airport's first concern is safety. The best that can be done for now is for residents to report the number of low-flying aircraft, he said.

Jensen, the pilot, and his wife, Lois, were taken to Carson-Tahoe Hospital where Jensen had surgery on his leg. Lois was flown to Washoe Medical Center after suffering cuts and bruises in the accident. All are recovering.

A fund has been set to help offset lost wages for the Griffin family.

Donations can be made in an account to benefit plane crash victim Bob Griffin at any Wells Fargo location.


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