After a tumultuous two year legal battle, a woman whose East Palo Alto home was destroyed in a plane crash will receive a settlement from the deceased pilot's estate, according the Mercury News.
The crash happened on February 17, 2010, when pilot Douglas Bourn took off in a small Cessna 310 despite warnings of near zero visibility. Witnesses said the two engine plane quickly took a 45-degree turn off the runway, crashing into a transmission tower.
Bourn, 56, and the two passengers inside, Andrew Ingram, 31; and 42-year-old Brian Finn all died. The three men were Tesla Motor employees and were heading out for a business meeting in Hawthorn from the near by Palo Alto airport.
The crash sent plane parts hurling across Beech Street, damaging three homes and starting a fire.
One of those homes belonged to 51-year-old Lisa Jones, whose three daughters lay sleeping in a room just inches from where a fire blazed. Jones' 5 bedroom home has remained a blackened mess for the past two years, with a caved in roof and black tarps trying to conceal the damage.
Now, a settlement has been reached that will allow Jones to rebuild her home. While the amount of the settlement is undisclosed, Jones estimates the damage to her house to be around $200,000.
In addition to losing her home, Jones' says the accident deprived her of her livelihood. She used to run a home day-care center, but has since struggled to find stable employment.
The settlement is expected to come from the estate of pilot Bourn, who the National Transportation Safety Board has found solely responsible for the crash. In it's final report, the Board noted that "the pilot departed the airport in near-zero visibility."
Prior to taking off around 8 am, air traffic control also sent Bourn a clear warning: "The runway is not visible, so its at your own risk."
Less than a minute later, the tower heightened the warning; "I cannot clear you for takeoff because I don't have visibility on the runway, so the release is all yours, and its at your own risk, sir."
The two other homes damaged in the incident have long since been repaired. The families of plane's dead passengers have also filed lawsuits in San Mateo County Superior Court against Bourne's estate, charging the pilot with poor judgment that took his colleagues lives.
Details on how quickly the settlement will translate into actual construction work remain undisclosed, but the agreement has put the Palo Alto neighborhood one step closer to rebuilding their community.