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Relatives of two more firefighters killed in crash sue

PORTLAND — Relatives of two contract firefighters killed in a helicopter crash in Northern California last summer have filed lawsuits against the aircraft's owner, manufacturers and a company that performed maintenance.

The suits were filed Thursday in Multnomah County by the families of 23-year-old Matthew Hammer of Grants Pass and 29-year-old Bryan Rich of Medford, The Oregonian newspaper reported.

The wrongful death, negligence and product liability lawsuits seek $10 million for the estates of each man. Seven others died when the helicopter crashed on takeoff in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

The lawsuits blame the crash on the "negligence of the defendants in piloting, operating, designing, manufacturing, selling, overhauling and/or repairing the helicopter and/or its component parts..."

It names Carson Helicopters, General Electric, Columbia Helicopters, Sikorsky Aircraft and Sikorsky's parent, United Technologies. Andy Mills, director of helicopter operations for Carson Helicopters, told The Oregonian that the company couldn't comment because it has yet to see the lawsuits.

Robert Hopkins, a Portland attorney, represents both families. The suits are the second and third resulting from the Aug. 5 crash. The first was filed in September on behalf of the estate and parents of Phoenix firefighter Scott Charlson, 25.

A San Diego attorney has filed a wrongful death case against Carson Helicopters and the makers of the firefighting helicopter that crashed in the Trinity Alps of Northern California Aug. 5, killing nine people and injuring four.

— Wire and staff reports