CHICAGO — The elderly couple whose home near Midway was hit by a plane last week filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the airline that owns the plane.
The couple, Roberta Rolinskas, 82, and Raymond Rolinskas, 84, were not physically injured when a small cargo plane owned by Central Airlines Inc. crashed into their home last Tuesday. The plane missed them by a mere eight inches, according to authorities. Eric Howlett, 47, the pilot of the plane, however, was killed.
But they have been under "severe emotional distress" since the incident, according to their lawyer, Matthew Jenkins of Corboy & Demetrio, which filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court Tuesday. The plane also severely damaged their home, tearing through living room and bedroom walls and crushing their belongings.
“While thankfully Roberta and Raymond did not suffer any physical harm, the emotional trauma has been devastating to them,” said Jenkins. “Hearing, seeing and feeling an airplane crashing just inches away from them has caused severe emotional distress."
Without naming the pilot, the lawsuit alleges Central Airlines "failed to execute a proper take-off ... a proper landing ... [and] to maintain sufficient altitude." The company also "failed to properly maintain the airplane ... inspect the airplane ... and control the airplane," the suit claims.
Jenkins has obtained a protective order to preserve the plane wreckage as well as radar reports, voice recordings, general maintenance records and communication records between Air Traffic Control and the pilot.
The small cargo plane departed from Midway at 2:42 last Tuesday and was heading toward Ohio State University Airport when it crashed into the couple's home in the 6500 block of South Knox Avenue, according to Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Cory said that the plane was originally headed for Chicago Executive Airport in north suburban Waukegan before the pilot altered its flight plan to head for the Ohio airport.
The pilot reported engine problems a few minutes after takeoff with the Aero Commander 500 plane. He tried to return to Midway but crashed about a quarter-mile from the airport, according to Cory.
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