Wayne Kidrowski, 56, fell to his death on Aug. 16 after he was sucked out of an open door of an airplane owned by Brooklyn-based Skydive Iowa. The parachute he was told to wear deployed in the plane without warning, according to the lawsuit.
Kidrowski’s parachute got caught on the plane’s tail before he fell 600 to 700 feet to the ground, the lawsuit said.
Attorneys for Kidrowski’s wife, who was named administrator of his estate, believe the plane’s pilot and owners weren’t in compliance with federal safety regulations, according to the lawsuit sent to Poweshiek County on Tuesday. The lawsuit names Skydive Iowa and its owner, Bruce Kennedy, as well as the pilot, Andrew Arthur, as plaintiffs.
Kennedy declined to speak with a reporter, citing the litigation. Kennedy said the skydiving business remains open. Arthur could not be reached for comment.
During the August flight, Kidrowski had agreed to ride with Arthur in the Cessna 206 from Brooklyn to the Grinnell Regional Airport so that the airplane could undergo maintenance, according to the lawsuit. The plane had no seat for Kidrowski with a safety belt, because all seats except for the pilot’s had been removed, the lawsuit said.
An employee of the skydiving company who is also named in the lawsuit, Brent Rhomberg, gave Kidrowski a parachute to wear during the flight even though Kidrowski had no intention of skydiving, according to the lawsuit. Rhomberg acted negligently in requiring the parachute, the lawsuit said.
“Wayne Kidrowski would not have been pulled from the aircraft and killed if he had not been required to wear a parachute,” the lawsuit said.
The plane’s right-side door had been removed, and a “roll-up style door” on the airplane was not used during the flight, leaving the door open, according to the lawsuit.
Under federal law, planes can be flown without doors specifically for skydiving, the lawsuit said.
Further, the pilot failed to provide a pre-flight briefing, which could have included safety equipment information, the lawsuit said.
Kidrowski’s parachute deployed when the plane was flying at an altitude of more than 1,000 feet, according to the lawsuit. The wind dragged the parachute and Kidrowski out of the plane, and then the parachute got caught on the plane’s tail, the lawsuit said.
The parachute, stuck on the tail, caused the plane to stall and descend about 300 feet, according to the lawsuit. When Arthur got control of the aircraft again, Kidrowski’s parachute came off the tail, and the pilot believed Kidrowski “had control” of the parachute, the lawsuit said.
Kidrowski was a father of two adult daughters and had two granddaughters and worked at the Brooklyn Elevator, his widow, Cindy Kidrowski, confirmed for The Des Moines Register through an attorney.
The lawsuit asks for damages for “loss of spousal support” as well as “loss of enjoyment of life” and “pre-impact terror.” The lawsuit also asks for punitive damages, levied to punish plaintiffs for negligent or reckless behavior.
An average of 21 people die each year in skydiving accidents, said Jim Crouch, director of safety and training for the United States Parachute Association. Such deaths are commonly caused by human error, such as opening a parachute once a skydiver is too low to the ground, or by two divers colliding mid-air, he said.
Crouch said the association was aware of Kidrowski’s death, but did not include the death in its count because he wasn’t on a skydiving flight. Crouch declined to comment on the specific actions leading to Kidrowski’s death, but said all skydive operators are responsible for ensuring they are complying with all laws and Federal Aviation Administration regulations.