This could have feasibly gone partially into GQ, and partially into IMHO as well as here in GD. I flipped a three-sided coin, and it came up GD.
Here’s the skinny, you can read more from the NTSB.
This incident occurred in October of 1998 in Roswell, a northern suburb of Atlanta. A pilot was flying a Piper PA-32R-300 (I don’t know very much about airplanes, but I assume it is a small or very small passenger plane – I’m sure I’ll get corrected if that’s not the case.) She starts having trouble, and she is forced to make an emergency landing on highway GA-400 at around 6.30pm (middle of rush hour traffic). She gets the plane on the ground, and it goes about 150 yards before colliding with a Mazda 626. The Mazda burst into flames and the driver was killed.
Now, I have talked to a friend who has his pilot’s license, and he claims that she did not break any laws at all, and that given the same circumstances, he would have done the same thing. From what he said, that type of plane needs more room to land than most small planes, and that the highway was her only option. The highway is lined with trees and it is typical suburbia surrounding the highway in that part of town. So, her only choice was to let the plane down into the trees or to try to land on the highway. Granted, the chances of her survival had she tried to take the plane down in the trees is minimal. I don’t fault her for the decision she made, but it is just unfathomable to me that she is not responsible (legally) for the death of that Mazda driver. I think that in this case, if you are going to make the decision of risking others to keep yourself alive, you need to be held responsible if your decision results in another’s death.
Does anyone have any insight here? This just blows my mind.