Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Don't Die On the Job in CA if You're Single!

I have something to air that has been on my mind for awhile. It has been 13 months since my uncle's helicopter crashed into the Klamath River in California August 4, 2006, while he was fighting a forest fire. My uncle, Terry (Jake) Jacobs (58) and his copilot, Andrei Pantchenko (38), were killed in the crash. All investigations revealed that the crash was due to a mechanical malfunction and not pilot error. I don't know why it is at the forefront of my mind now. Maybe it is because I went to clear old numbers out of my phone and saw his name. Maybe it is because my computer sits on the desk he gave me. Don't misunderstand. I'm not having trouble dealing with his death. I have accepted it. I am having trouble dealing with good old US justice.

Ter knew he was doing a dangerous job. He developed a hunger for flying under dangerous conditions while he was a med evac pilot for the Army in Viet Nam. Rumor has it that he flew two tours and was shot down once. I don't know for sure though. For all the stories he told me, he never shared anything about Viet Nam. But he loved to fly. And he was happiest when he was flying a 'sky crane'.

Here is the weird part though. Did you know that in the state of California, if you are married to your job (aka. single), any workman's comp claim due in the event of your death go to the state? Not your brothers or sisters, or anyone who would be handling your memorial and estate. But the state of California! Not the people who want to pay off all your debts. But the California government! My pockets aren't feeling light. As a niece I wouldn't be entitled to anything anyways. It just does not make sense to me.

And due to some legal loops that I also fail to understand, neither Terry's family, nor Andrei's family are due any compensation for the mechanical failure. Andrei, who is originally from Russia, is survived by a young (20 something) wife, and young daughter. What do you think their take is on the US justice system? These men gave their lives protecting the lives and property of California citizens. And they are owed no compensation.

I really don't believe in lawsuits, and I know that God has his own justice system. There is no reason for me to be so upset about this. It just pains me to realize that when people can be awarded millions of dollars for getting fat eating burgers, or sick from smoking, or even getting hurt when breaking and entering, that our government is not willing to reimburse for the lives of individuals who die by no fault of their own, protecting the lives and property of their citizens.

That's what I'm thinking about. Thanks for letting me vent.

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