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Fatal accident near Château d’Oex Multimillion lawsuit filed over balloon crash

Police officers inspect the site of the accident in Montbovon in August 2013

(Keystone)

The family of a man from the United States who died in a hot-air balloon accident in Switzerland in summer 2013 has filed a lawsuit in California seeking almost $54 million (CHF48 million) in damages.

The man’s wife and two daughters were also seriously injured in the crash, which happened while they were on holiday in the mountain resort of Gstaad.

According to a report in the Malibu Timesexternal link, the lawsuit was filed at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in early July. The legal text, which was been seen by the Swiss News Agency, accuses a travel agent, two travel companies and a Swiss hotel of negligence in the events leading up to the accident in August 2013.

The suit also alleges that the man who piloted the hot-air balloon trip, and survived the accident, had a long history of alcoholism and had been drinking the night before the early morning outing. It adds that that this man is facing manslaughter charges under the Swiss court system.

The balloon plunged around 50 metres after hitting a power line near Montbovon, in canton Fribourg, just before it was scheduled to land, according to a Fribourg police statement issued at the time of the accident last yearexternal link. It had departed from Château d’Oex ,the site of a well-known ballooning festival, and nearby to Gstaad.

A pre-trial hearing into the case in the US is scheduled for October 20 this year.

In a statement, the hotel in question called the accident a “tragedy”, but declined to comment further on the US lawsuit or the accident due to the legal proceedings in the US and the current investigation by the Swiss Accident Investigation Board.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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