A Franklin County grand jury has returned an indictment charging a New Hampshire man with involuntary manslaughter in connection with his operation of the small plane that crashed on Jan. 1, 2011 in Orange, resulting in the death of the passenger, his daughter.
Steven T. Fay, 57, of 8 Wall St., Hillsboro, N.H., is expected to be arraigned in Franklin Superior Court on one count of manslaughter for “unintentionally and unlawfully” causing the death of Jessica L. Malin, 35, by means of “wanton or reckless conduct.”
Fay will be arraigned in Franklin Superior Court in Greenfield, Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 2 p.m.
First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven E. Gagne presented the case to the grand jury, which returned an indictment alleging that Fay’s conduct “created a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm would result to another, in that he did operate a Cessna fixed-wing multi-engine aircraft without sufficient training, experience, expertise, licensure, qualifications and/or supervision, and in violation of various rules and regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
The indictment goes on to allege that Fay’s conduct caused the aircraft to crash upon approach to the Orange Airport, resulting in the death of his passenger, “a person to whom he owed a duty of care as his passenger.”
“Mr. Fay was neither licensed nor qualified to fly that twin-engine plane without an instructor on board, and he was repeatedly warned as such, yet he nevertheless chose to fly the plane at night with a passenger on board without his instructor’s knowledge or approval,” Gagne said.
“His conduct unfortunately resulted in the tragic death of his own daughter, but it also endangered anyone who happened to be in his flight path, particularly those who live in the residential neighborhoods adjacent to the Orange Airport,” Gagne said.
Fay told authorities he had taken off from Dillant-Hopkins Airport in Keene, N. H., at approximately 4:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day and decided to practice touch-and-go landings at Orange Municipal Airport before returning to Keene.
The crash occurred about 90 minutes after sunset.
A report issued by the National Transportation and Safety Board following the crash indicates that the accident occurred when the plane struck some trees near the runway as Fay practiced a maneuver called a “touch-and-go” landing after sunset. Mechanical failure, weather, and operator impairment were not factors in the crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration revoked Fay’s single-engine pilot’s license in March 2011.
Involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum potential penalty of twenty years in state prison, although potential penalties also include up to 2 ½ years in the House of Correction or probation.