Widow sues over tourist copter's role in crash

By Derrick Nunnally and Robert Moran Inquirer Staff Writers   The widow of Ambler executive Steven Altman has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia over the Aug. 8 airplane-helicopter crash that killed nine, including Altman, over the Hudson River in New York City.   The suit on behalf of Pamela Altman alleges that the helicopter tour company ran a reckless “bumper-car operation” and that its “bully” insurance companies had taken her to court trying to recover the cost of the lost helicopter.   Steven Altman, of the Altman Group in Fort Washington, was piloting the single-engine Piper that collided with the helicopter. The accident was captured on video and drew international attention.   Arthur Wolk, Pamela Altman’s attorney, said last night he also planned to sue the Federal Aviation Administration for the actions of the air-traffic controller directing Altman and the controller’s supervisor.   The Teterboro Airport controller had made a personal call after clearing Altman for takeoff and was on the phone until the plane and helicopter collided. His supervisor had left the building to run a personal errand. Both are on administrative leave.   A National Transportation Safety Board investigation remains open.   Wolk said the Altman family remained “totally devastated by this.”   Pamela Altman’s suit seeks more than $1.35 million in damages from the  Liberty Helicopter Inc. tour company, helicopter owner Meridian Consulting Corp., manufacturer American Eurocopter L.L.C., and insurance companies.   Her suit, filed Wednesday, claims that “lax management and operational attitude” by Liberty Helicopter and Meridian Consulting caused “a horrid history of accidents” over the Hudson and East Rivers before her husband’s fatal wreck and that the companies did little to prevent such accidents.   A message left by the Associated Press with Liberty Helicopters was not immediately returned, and a working phone number for Meridian could not be found.   Steven Altman, 60, was flying his brother, Daniel, 49, and nephew, Douglas, 16, to Ocean City, N.J. All were killed in the crash, as were the helicopter pilot and five Italian tourists.

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