Korea – relatives use 2022 Act against government officials, not heli operator

Korea – relatives use 2022 Act against government officials, not heli operator


The lawyer for the families of the individuals who lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Korea last November has reported that they have filed a complaint against local government officials for violating the Serious Accidents Punishment Act. The accident occurred on November 27, 2022, when a Sikorsky S-58 firefighting helicopter crashed on a hill in the eastern coastal county of Yangyang, resulting in the deaths of all five individuals on board.

The families have accused the mayors of the cities of Sokcho and the counties of Goseong and Yangyang of neglecting safety management, and violating the aforementioned Act. Notably, this is the first instance where local government officials have been sued under this Act, which came into effect in January 2022. The Act aims to hold accountable the owners and management of companies with 50 or more employees who fail to fulfill their duties to prevent serious accidents.

The three local governments had leased the helicopter for firefighting operations. The families contend that the company operating the helicopter manipulated flight records, utilized unapproved parts, and did not provide the crew with proper days off. As per the lease agreements, the families assert that the local governments had actual control over the helicopter, making them responsible.

Additionally, the flight plan filed for the crashed helicopter stated that only the captain and two mechanics were on board. However, it was later disclosed that the helicopter carried two more individuals beyond the crewmembers.

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