New suit filed stemming from 2010 plane crash

By Jim McCabe on November 13 at 7:14am

Ben Van Hyning

The group that runs the Jacksonville Municipal Airport is being sued in connection to a fatal plane crash from several years ago.

Litigation filed in Morgan County Circuit Court last Friday by David Van Hyning of Jacksonville, the father of Benjamin Van Hyning, names the Jacksonville Airport Authority in a wrongful death suit. Benjamin Van Hyning was a pilot student who was killed in a crash in Wheeling, Illinois on December 22nd, 2010.

The lawsuit is being re-filed after it was voluntarily dismissed last November 16th. It was originally filed December 22nd, 2011.

The 18-year-old Van Hyning was a passenger in a single-engine Cessna Sierra that was purchased by Jacksonville attorney Ronald Kesinger. The plane was in Chicago; the suit states Kesinger hired pilot Todd Cole to fly the aircraft back to Jacksonville, with Van Hyning tagging along as part of his flight education.

Two Jacksonville Airport Authority employees flew Cole and Van Hyning up to Wheeling, according to documents.

Cole reported engine trouble shortly after takeoff, turning back towards the airport. The plane crashed in a parking lot about a half mile from the airport. Van Hyning was killed; Cole sustained serious injuries.

The original lawsuit also named Cole and Kesinger. The new suit, which represents only one side of the claim, says the JAA should have known the aircraft was unsafe because of its history.

It claims the authority’s aviation professionals should have cancelled the flight until safety could be assured, and that Cole wasn’t a commercially-licensed pilot. It says airport employees knew Cole would be compensated for flying the plane despite that fact.

The litigation states the JAA acted negligently, carelessly and improperly in putting Van Hyning on board the flight. It alleges the airplane was not properly de-iced before takeoff.

A jury trial is being requested in addition to fair compensation.

David Van Hyning is represented by the Rapoport Law Offices of Chicago.

Benjamin Van Hyning picture provided by Airsman-Hires Funeral Home.