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updated: 2/2/2012 2:35 PM

Sugar Grove family sues after plane crashes near home

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  • A Sugar Grove family has filed suit against the estate of a Florida man who crashed a company plane shortly after takeoff from the Aurora Municipal Airport in January 2010. The plane first hit the ground and pieces from the wreckage struck a home's garage, setting it on fire. Four people inside the home were safely evacuated.

       A Sugar Grove family has filed suit against the estate of a Florida man who crashed a company plane shortly after takeoff from the Aurora Municipal Airport in January 2010. The plane first hit the ground and pieces from the wreckage struck a home's garage, setting it on fire. Four people inside the home were safely evacuated.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Pieces of wreckage are gathered from a yard at Old Oaks Road near Route 47 in Sugar Grove following a plane crash in January 2010. The pilot and his passenger were killed in the crash. The homeowners have sued the pilot's estate and his Florida employer, which owned the plane.

       Pieces of wreckage are gathered from a yard at Old Oaks Road near Route 47 in Sugar Grove following a plane crash in January 2010. The pilot and his passenger were killed in the crash. The homeowners have sued the pilot's estate and his Florida employer, which owned the plane.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

A Sugar Grove family has sued the estate of a Florida man who crashed his plane near their home in January 2010, killing himself and his passenger.

The suit against the estate of Gary Bradford Jr. and ENS Corp., a Florida computer software company, claims the 37-year-old pilot was negligent in that he didn't perform a preflight inspection, failed to properly maintain the aircraft and was not qualified to pilot it in an emergency.

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The Smith Aerostar 601P crashed at about 6:52 p.m. Jan. 23, 2010 about 2.3 miles northeast of the Aurora Municipal Airport, killing Bradford, of Hollywood, Fla., and his passenger, Drago Strahija, 32, of Lake Worth, Fla.

The crash damaged a home in the 43W400 Old Oaks Road, near Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove. Cathy Doyle, her two children, and her mother escaped from the house afterward.

The suit seeks more than $50,000 for damages and injuries to the four people in the home, but it does not specify what types of injuries they sustained.

Francis Murphy, the Doyles' attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

A woman who answered the phone at ENS Corp.'s office in Hollywood, Fla., said the company would have no comment. According to the suit, Bradford was an ENS employee and ENS owned the plane.

Efforts to reach Rita Bradford, who is Bradford's widow and the administrator of his estate and a defendant in the suit, were unsuccessful.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigated the crash, Bradford and Strahija were headed from Florida to the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Denver.

They took off that night from Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove and an employee there said Bradford arrived 15 minutes before his departure, did not conduct a preflight inspection and "seemed to be in a hurry," according to the NTSB.

No illegal drugs or alcohol were found in Bradford's system, just over-the-counter cold medicine, the NTSB said.

The case is due in court April 5.

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