DENVER (CBS4/KKTV) – A flight nurse who survived a fiery helicopter crash in Colorado is set to receive $100 million.
Attorneys for David Repsher say Airbus Helicopters, the manufacturer, and Air Methods Corp., the operator, agreed to the payment to settle Repsher's lawsuit over the 2015 crash in the mountain town of Frisco.
Airbus called the crash a tragedy. Air Methods says it hopes the settlement provides closure. Both said they have made safety improvements.
Repsher's lawsuit said the helicopter wasn't equipped with a crash-resistant fuel system and that his seat wasn't sufficiently anchored. Repsher was thrown from the helicopter in the seat.
CBS Denver talked to Repsher about one year ago.
“That just never came across my mind I guess.”
Medical texts don’t seem to have documented survival from injury as great, but Repsher is an anomaly in many ways. Incredible fitness, toughness of body and mind — and help, medical care and emotional support. The combination has put him back on his feet working on new steps in his survival. He hasn’t told his story before.
CBS4 caught up to Dave and his wife Amanda at the Pepsi Center where Repsher was visiting before an Avalanche game. He was honored to the roar of the crowd.
“I had some very dark days,” Repsher admits.
Who wouldn’t. Repsher was injured when his Flight For Life helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff on July 3, 2015. The aircraft didn’t get far and smashed into a parking lot next to the St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco. There were three on board — fellow flight nurse Matt Bowe, who’s injuries were less severe and has returned to work, Repsher and pilot Patrick Mahany.
“It was an incredibly hard thing to tell Dave when he woke up that Patrick was gone,” said his wife Amanda about the death of Mahany.
Repsher’s memories of his friend are stirring; like the time Mahany landed in a tiny patch of clear ground at Longs Peak to rescue an injured climber.
“Pat got me on that rock, (I) went out, got the patient, put the patient in, big hurry, got me out of there. Not a drop of sweat came off his brow. He was the best pilot in the world and just a pleasure to be around,” Repsher said.
Repsher isn’t one to easily talk about himself. His friends tell stories of him running, climbing, kayaking and playing hockey in one day without thinking twice.
“Dave was so strong, anywhere we’d go on the river, on the mountain skiing, I always felt so safe, just knowing Dave was there, just knowing everything was going to be okay,” said Amanda, who is also a nurse and used to work at a burn center. “When they told me that Dave was burned 90 percent, I just fell apart and I knew that him living through the night was going to be something extraordinary.”
Repsher lived and kept living. Still Repsher’s burn surgeon reminded her she would never be able to stop worrying until he walked out of the hospital. That would be over a year.
Right after Repsher came in, doctors put him under sedation. With burns so severe, there was no way he could be awake.
“I guess Amanda was there every day and there were times where I could hear her voice and it seemed to bring me back in from wherever I was at. I was in some pretty strange places at times but, every now and then I’d hear Amanda’s voice and it would sort of ground me and bring me back,” Repsher said.
The burns were one challenge, but only one. At one point Repsher began to bleed uncontrollably.
“I told him to fight,” said Amanda, “I told him I wasn’t ready to let him go and he did. He fought.”
Doctors brought him out of sedation to see what kind of damage the loss of blood had caused.
“It was the most bizarre thing, it was just like a shutter frame opened it went from black it just, across my eyes it just went white and I was awake,” said Repsher. “I woke up and I had Amanda by my side but it was a very scary time.”
He couldn’t move.