FRANKLIN COUNTY, N.C. — Just when Franklin County thought it was moving beyond the controversy behind a May 2004 helicopter crash, there's new legal action from the widow of a sheriff's deputy. Attorneys authored the latest and possibly final chapter in a tragedy and liability mess for the county.
Just before noon Friday, they filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ann Greene. Her husband, Deputy Ted Horton, died in the crash outside Louisburg.
"It's been a struggle for Ann," said Greene's attorney, Hill Allen. "It's been two years now, and I think it's fair to say she's still feeling it."
"The tragedy goes on because no one has stepped forward to take any responsibility for it," said Greene's attorney, Jim Crouse.
Greene's attorneys argue there's plenty of negligence to go around. First, they cite the pilot, Ben Barrick. The lawsuit alleges Barrick knowingly brought a poorly maintained helicopter to Franklin County. Attorneys also contend he was dangerous because he was not properly trained to fly.
The suit also blames Franklin County and Sheriff Jerry Jones for Horton's death. Many believe the crash controversy contributed to Jones' re-election loss on Tuesday. He signed the secret deal to lease the chopper.
The sheriff declined to talk about the suit, but has said previously it was Deputy Horton who pushed him to approve the aircraft.
"For anybody to think Ted Horton was merely on a fool's errand is mistaken," said Crouse.
The workers' compensation claims in this case have already been settled. County commissioners felt that put an end to the liability.
"We don't think the slate is anywhere near clean in this case," said Crouse.
"It's appropriate to find out what the truth is -- what happened, and for those who had some responsibility, hold them accountable," said Allen.
The Franklin County attorney declined to discuss the lawsuit. When WRAL informed Commissioner Harry Foy about the suit, he said he wasn't surprised since this ordeal has been a merry-go-round for the county. Foy also said he doesn't believe the plaintiff's have a case against the county because of the workers' compensation settlement.