The Learjet crash that claimed the lives of pilots James Bland and Sarah Lemmon and left musicians Travis Barker and DJ AM severely burned, wasn’t due to James’ abilities, his sister told People magazine.
“We know the investigation will eventually show they weren’t negligent,” Bland’s younger sister, Laura Martz, told the mag. “James took piloting very seriously. If he felt the plane wasn’t maintained properly, he would’ve refused to fly that day.”
Two of Barker’s employees, Charles “Che” Still and Chris Baker, also died in the September 19 crash in South Carolina. Still’s mother and Barker filed lawsuits in November that allege that the pilots “negligently decided to abort” the flight. Their suit names the plane’s owners, manufacturer Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and a maintenance company, but does not name Bland’s estate as a defendant. Another suit, filed by Baker’s mother, does include the estate.
“The pilots were either poorly trained and/or failed to follow their training,” Barker’s suit claims.
Martz said she understands the reason for the suit, though she doesn’t agree with it.
“I don’t blame them for suing,” she said. “It was to be expected; that’s just the way our society functions. In fact, I’d love to be able to talk to Travis Barker and DJ AM about my brother’s final moments.”
She has reportedly reached out to the musicians but has yet to receive a response.
Looking back, Martz recalled her brother’s 32 years of experience, his faith in his co-pilot – and his attention to detail.
“James was such a meticulous person, he was the type who wouldn’t pay his bills even a day late,” Martz said. “He also had total confidence in the abilities of Sarah.”
“Whatever happened on the runway, I’m sure it was beyond [the pilots’] control,” she added.