On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
41°
Mostly Sunny
H 75° L 52°
  • cloudy-day
    41°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Sunny. H 75° L 52°
  • clear-day
    71°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Sunny. H 75° L 52°
  • clear-night
    64°
    Evening
    Mostly Clear. H 75° L 52°
Listen
Pause
Error

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Family members of 2016 plane crash victims sue US government
Close

Family members of 2016 plane crash victims sue US government

Family members of 2016 plane crash victims sue US government

Family members of 2016 plane crash victims sue US government

Family members of a local 8-year-old boy and a mother who died in a plane crash are now suing the U.S. government.

The plane took off from Keystone Heights on Dec. 26, 2016, and crashed into the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.

The crash killed all three people on board: Bradford County father David Starling; his son, Hunter Starling; and his girlfriend Kim Smith.

David Starling was piloting the plane.

RELATED: Pilot of crashed plane did not have proper license for low-visibility flight

The plane crashed into a mountain peak while flying through a cloud layer where the pilot had low visibility.

The lawsuits filed by Hunter’s mother, Tabitha Starling, and Kim Smith’s son, Joshua Garrett Smith, claim the Federal Aviation Administration “approach controller never warned the pilot that he was at an obvious risk of colliding with the mountain.”

The federal government filed a response blaming the “negligent acts and omissions of the pilot.”

Action News Jax reported in 2016 that Starling did not have the proper license for a low-visibility cross-country flight.

“When you are searching for an airport and you don’t have an instrument rating … you have a tendency to... get lower and lower trying to see the airport and maintain visual contact with the ground. And, unfortunately, the clouds sometimes hide the terrain,” said Jacksonville University assistant professor of aeronautics Wayne Ziskal in 2016.

STORY: U.S. Coast Guard suspends search for downed plane off the coast of Ponte Vedra Beach

The National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Final Report said, “The pilot had a history of disregard for established rules and regulations.”

The report said Starling had a history of operating his plane in conditions he was not licensed to fly in.

The NTSB also said he “used the potentially-impairing stimulant phentermine at some time before the flight, but the samples available for testing were inadequate to quantify impairment.”

Phentermine is an amphetamine-like prescription appetite suppressant.
 

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • Four people are dead following a dramatic south Florida police chase – involving a hijacked UPS truck – that ended in gunfire, authorities confirmed late Thursday. >> Read more trending news  The incident began shortly after 4 p.m. when Coral Gables police responded to a robbery at a Regent Jewelers store. Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak told USA Today responding officers were met with gunfire from two suspects upon arrival. About 20 minutes after fleeing the scene in a truck, the suspected robbers then hijacked a UPS delivery truck and took its driver hostage, FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro, the head of the Miami field office, said during a news conference. Pursuing officers chased the stolen vehicle until traffic forced it to stop near a busy intersection during rush hour, USA Today reported. The hail of gunfire that erupted killed four people, including the two suspected robbers, the UPS driver and a bystander who was inside an idle car at the intersection, the Miami Herald reported. Piro said during the news conference it is unclear if bullets fired by police or the hijackers are responsible for the deaths of the UPS driver and the bystander. “It is very, very early on in the investigation and it would be completely inappropriate to discuss that,” Piro said. “We have just began to process the crime scene. As you can imagine, this is going to be a very complicated crime scene.” UPS spokesman David Graves told USA Today the company will cooperate with authorities. “We are deeply saddened to learn a UPS service provider was a victim of this senseless act of violence,” Graves said in a statement, adding, “We extend our condolences to the family and friends of our employee and the other innocent victims involved in this incident.” Read more here or here.
  • This school year students across our area are getting the chance to discuss mental health in class. All Florida school districts had to submit their mental health instruction plans to Tallahassee by Dec. 1.  Action News Jax reached out all nine school districts in Northeast Florida to get a copy of their mental and emotional health instruction plans.  So far, we’ve heard back from four districts.  In Duval County, the school district has designated early release Wednesdays as “Wellness Wednesdays”.  Students from sixth to 12th grade are required to receive instruction on mental health topics.  One teacher, who didn’t want to be identified, said they recently watched a video on bullying followed by class discussion.  In St. Johns County, mental and emotional health education is similar.  Students receive a one-hour group lesson on mental and emotional health topics.  In Nassau County, physical education and English language arts classes are where students get their mental health instruction. Nassau County students from sixth to 12th grade must complete a minimum of five hours each year.  John Peasant said this type of instruction is needed in today’s world.  “I think having a day or so for the kids to kind of decompress on what has happened, or will happen, or probably may happen at any given moment could be a good thing,” he said.  Baker County also got back to Action News Jax, you can find their plan by clicking here.
  • People from around the world travel to our own backyard for cutting-edge medical treatment. Starting next week, patients at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute will have access to the newest and most advanced proton therapy treatment on the market.  Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses protons rather than traditional X-rays.  Thursday, Action News Jax got a behind-the-scenes tour of the new state-of-the-art cancer treatment technology at the facility.  The new addition is a single-room proton therapy system known as Proteus®ONE. It’s the centerpiece of the facility’s $39 million expansion.  Dr. Danny Indelicato, director of the Pediatric Proton Therapy Program at UF, said the Proteus® ONE uses precise, targeted radiation.  “We can use this device to deliver higher doses of radiation to the tumor and avoid nearby normal organs, hopefully decreasing side effects both short-term and long-term,” Indelicato said.  He said one of the unique features of the room is an ambient package that allows patients to change the color of the lights, music and scenery projected on the wall.  “Allowing them to relax it makes it a lot easier for us to deliver the precision of radiation that this machine is built for,” Indelicato said.  Steven Fitzgerald will be one of the first patients to receive the new treatment.  He’s being treated for craniopharyngioma which is a type of benign tumor.  “It’s currently pressing on my optic nerve behind my eye which has caused a lot of vision loss and vision damage,” Fitzgerald said.  Fitzgerald was diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a golf ball in 2014.  He underwent several surgeries, but it started to grow again in August.  His father said he’s excited about the advanced system and hopes it will help him live a better life.  Phase 3 of the expansion will begin soon. It involves the installation of a dedicated pencil beam scanning nozzle in one original gantry.  The expansion is expected to be complete in 2021.  The institute will have the ability to treat 25% more patients.
  • A major San Marco development is getting closer to becoming a reality. On Thursday, the developers for a brand-new Publix got approval for several changes they wanted to make to the project.  It goes to show how much excitement surrounds the potential of having the grocery store in the area.  The empty lot between Atlantic Boulevard and Alford Place will eventually be sprawling with activity: first construction, then visitors.  Publix would be the anchor store, but the development will also come with 35 condo units as well as retail shops and restaurants.  The city’s planning and zoning staff recommended approval, but with some conditions involving the size of the signage as well as traffic concerns.  Ultimately, the changes the developers asked for seemed reasonable to the planning commission.  One thing that was tabled was a possible crosswalk.  Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber’s office is studying that portion and will report later to figure out if it’s needed.  Next, the developers will go before the land use and zoning board.
  • The Neptune Beach Police Department is taking steps to proactively prevent package thefts this holiday season. The police department says it's instituting a Holiday Package Receiving Program to ensure residents are able to get their packages safely, without so-called 'porch pirates' stepping in first.  As part of this program, Neptune Beach residents will be able to have their online orders shipped to police headquarters instead of their house.  'This number one priority of our agency is to ensure the safety of life and property for our residents. This is yet one more way we can better serve and protect our beautiful beachside community,' says Chief of Police Richard Pike.  To take part in this program, the police department says the following guidelines apply:   • Be a resident of Neptune Beach • Have your package sent to our Police Headquarters, 200 Lemon St. Neptune Beach, FL 32266 • Present a valid Florida DL/ID card upon picking up your package • Retrieve your package between the hours of 6am to 6pm • The program will run from 12/05/2019 to 12/23/2019 If you have any questions, you can call PIO Commander Michael Key at (904) 242-3435.

The Latest News Videos