A woman who was evacuated from an Arizona mountain in a viral helicopter rescue has sued the city of Phoenix for $2 million, saying the experience caused her physical and mental harm.
According to a notice of claim filed Tuesday, Katalin Metro was hiking Piestewa Peak on June 4 when she lost her footing and fell, injuring her nose, arm and hip. Her husband, George Metro, called 911 and, responding firefighters ordered a helicopter to airlift Katalin Metro.
As Phoenix Mountain Rescue carried Metro off the mountain, the basket she was in began spinning out of control. Reports at the time said this went on for 60 seconds before subsiding. The drama was captured by local TV helicopters and went viral online, where the video wracked up tens of millions of views.
WILD HELICOPTER RESCUE: Firefighters say a 74-year-old woman had to be flown off of Piestewa Peak this morning after she suffered an injury while hiking.
— FOX 10 Phoenix (@FOX10Phoenix) June 4, 2019
After Metro was transported to a hospital, crews held a news conference to explain the footage.
“As the basket comes up and hears the helicopter, the basket will start to interact with the rotor wash of the helicopter. That is when it tends to spin. It wants to windmill,” said Paul Apolinar, a chief pilot with the Phoenix Police Department.
“She suffered no ill effect from that spin other than being a little bit dizzy,” said Capt. Bobby Dubnow of the Phoenix Fire Department.
Katalin Metro sues
However, in the notice of claim, Metro’s lawyers said that the city was “grossly negligent” in its handling of the rescue, The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday. The lawyers said the firefighters called a helicopter against their client’s wishes, causing her to suffer “significant and permanent injuries and damages.”
George Metro has also claimed damages.
According to the couple’s claim, the $2 million they demanded is necessary to cover medical and psychological treatment, pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life.
Following her hospitalization for bleeding, bruising and swelling, the lawyers said, Katalin Metro, 74, has continued to receive physical therapy and occupational therapy for weakness and balance issues. The lawyers also linked her experience spinning from the helicopter to a subsequent bout of depression — requiring twice-weekly meetings with a psychologist — and ongoing anxiety.
Asked Tuesday about his wife’s condition six months on, George Metro told Fox 10: “She’s getting better everyday.”
Phoenix city officials and firefighters have declined to comment on the case, citing the pending litigation.