May 2014

Family Compensated for Flying Accident Death

The family of fifteen-year-old Air Cadet has been awarded compensation for his death, which occurred when the plane he was riding in collided with a glider.

Nicholas Rice, an Air Cadet from Calcot in Reading, and Flight Lieutenant Mike Blee, a pilot, were both killed in an air accident on the 14th June 2009 when the plane they were flying in collided with a glider over the Drayton Airfield.

Flight Lieutenant Mike Blee had been declared fit to fly by Douglas Wyder, a doctor for the RAF Benson. However, this was in spite of the fact that Flight Lieutenant Blee had a diagnosed spinal condition, ankylosing spondylitis, which could have caused his spine to suddenly fracture without warning.

An inquest was conducted into the accident, and the result was to declare the deaths as accidental. The Royal Air Force subsequently apologised to the Rice family for their son’s death, and admitted that Flight Lieutenant Blee’s spinal condition may have played a part in the accident. They stated that he should not have been declared fit to fly.

Julia Rice, Nicholas’ mother, made a compensation claim for fatal injuries in a flying accident, though the Ministry of Defence initially contested her claim on the basis of time limits after such an incident occurs.

Despite this, Mrs Rice continued with her claim and when the Ministry of Defence were threatened with court, they negotiated a five-figure settlement for the fatal injuries.

The Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal found that Dr Wyper’s fitness to practice was impaired. However, this did not proceed any further as Dr Wyper has been put on an indefinite suspension after the inquest into the deaths was completed.