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Radio Host Bob Collins' Estate Sued by Family of Student Pilot Killed in Mid-Air Plane Collision

March 9, 2000

Cook County Judge Michael Hogan today allowed an amended complaint to be filed against the estate of Robert Collins in the lawsuit filed on behalf of the estate of Sharon Hock, the student pilot whose Cessna 172 was struck by Collins' airplane near the Waukegan Municipal Airport on February 8, 2000, killing Hock, Collins and Herman Luscher, a friend of Collins' who was flying with him.

Michael K. Demetrio of Corboy & Demetrio filed the amended complaint. Illinois law prohibits anyone from suing a deceased party until an estate has been opened on the dead person's behalf. Mr. Collins' estate was opened recently in Lake County.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, added Collins to the two defendants previously named in the lawsuit: (1) Midwest Air Traffic Control Service, the company providing air traffic control services to the airport, pursuant to a contract with the Federal Aviation Administration; and (2) Greg Fowler, the airport's air traffic controller who was responsible for guiding the planes safely to the ground.

The lawsuit alleges that Collins should have taken greater precautions as he was attempting to land his plane. The suit also alleges that the air traffic controller and Midwest failed to provide appropriate air navigation services to Ms. Hock and Mr. Collins and failed to provide adequate radar in the airport tower. Preliminary results of the National Transportation Safety Board investigation indicate that the air traffic control system operated by Midwest did not properly align the two planes as they approached the airport. In addition, the airport does not utilize radar equipment in the tower.

"It's the pilots' responsibility to maintain visual contact with other planes in the area during take-offs and landings," said Demetrio. "Of the two pilots, Mr. Collins was in the best position to prevent the collision because his plane was behind Sharon's as they made their final approaches to the airport."

Corboy & Demetrio has launched an investigation into all aspects of the crash and retained top aviation and radar experts to analyze all aspects of the collision. The law firm is also involved in another aviation disaster case with Midwest Air Traffic Control Service as a defendant, a 1997 mid-air crash at Meigs Field.

Hock, 31, a Chicago resident, grew up in Lincoln Park, graduated from Lincoln Park High School and won academic honors at DePaul University, where she graduated in 1995. A bright, energetic, caring person, Sharon was working as a flight attendant for United Airlines and as an instructor at several North Side Health Clubs. Her father, Ed Hock, said that Sharon loved flying and was taking aviation lessons in the hope of someday becoming a commercial pilot.

Ms. Hock received a burial service at St. Clement Church on February 12, 2000, the same church where she was baptized. She was buried at St. Boniface Cemetery in Chicago, next to her mother, Lois, who died of breast cancer seven years ago. Hock is survived by her father, Ed, and sister, Margaret.

The amended case is Edward J. Hock, Personal Representative of the Estate of Sharon Hock, Deceased, v. Midwest Air Traffic Control Service, Inc., a corporation,Greg Fowler, and Estate of Robert Collins No. 00L002295.

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