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F-14 Crash Survivors Reject Navy Settlement Offer, File Lawsuit

November 5, 1996

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ The families of three people killed when a Navy jet crashed into a home are suing for $42 million, saying the Navy’s settlement offer is not enough.

The Navy offered a total of $850,000 to the families of Elmer and Ada Newsom and Ewing Wair after concluding its F-14 pilot was responsible for the Jan. 29 crash.

Mike Newsom, one of five Newsom children, said he did not like putting a dollar figure on the loss of his parents.

``But it is the only way we have to make sure that their lives were not lost in vain,″ he said Monday.

Also killed were the pilot, Lt. Cmdr. John Stacy Bates of Chattanooga, and crewman Lt. Graham Alden Higgins of Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. The Navy concluded Bates’ unauthorized steep takeoff maneuver led to the crash.

Ewing Wair’s two children are suing for $10 million; the Newsom’s for $32 million. Both lawsuits were filed Monday and claim the Navy’s negligence resulted in the deaths.

Navy spokesman Lt. Rick Haupt said a settlement may still be possible.

``While no amount of money could ever replace a loved one, it has always been the Navy’s intention to compensate the families for their loss,″ Haupt said.

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