Interesting case from a legal perspective. The theory under which a person may face conviction for involuntary manslaughter requires an unintentional, yet unlawful killing resulting from the wanton or reckless conduct of the defendant. This theory of involuntary manslaughter is sometimes called "Welansky manslaughter," after the 1944 case in which the owner of a nightclub was convicted of involuntary manslaughter when a fire in his club caused the death of over 400 patrons. That case also established that wanton or reckless conduct includes both affirmative acts and failures to act where a duty to act exists. Such acts or omissions must embody a disregard for the probable harmful consequences to another. The conduct must involve a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm will result to another. The law requires that the defendant have knowledge of the circumstances and the intent to do the act that caused the death, and also requires that the circumstances presented a danger of serious harm such that a reasonable man would have recognized the nature and degree of danger. Wanton and reckless conduct is distinct from negligence or gross negligence for which, in the common law of Massachusetts, there is no criminal liability. So, what if the pilot had hundreds of hurs of flying time in twins but never bothered to get his checkout? Would a tractor trailer driver involved in an accident due to simple in attentiveness (negligence, not recklessness) be guilty if he didn't have a Commercial Drivers License? I am not defending this guy. He is an ass and has suffered miserably for his actions, but was the crash the result of reckless conduct or simply negligence? Jury may acquit since he has suffered enough...
This guy got what he deserved. What an idiot.
How sad this is. An innocent person lost her life because this idiot choose to fly the plane when he was not qualified to do so. Making the choice to fly it and then adding in that it was at night when things are even more demanding just shows a complete disregard for the rules, common sense and an inflated view of his capabilities. Adding to that the story indicates this plane might have been a piece of junk which further complicates things. He will pay dearly for this whether he goes to prison or not because he will have to wake up every day for the rest of his life knowing his daughter never will.
Obviously, not all of the facts are known here. It is plain that the pilot was working on his twin rating and most candidates are typically considered safe for solo piloting after an minimum number of hours (5 to 6 hours). The rating only requires 10 hours of instruction, no written exam, and a flight test. The article makes plain that mechanical impairment of the aircraft wasn't a factor, then maligns the plane for having been previously grounded, suggesting an airworthiness problem that was assumably resolved. If we're going to condemn pilots for flying previously grounded equipment, we'd better prosecute the majority of air carrier pilots (can you say, Southwest?).
As to the charge of manslaughter, are these guys smoking the drapes in New Hampshire? The lady's death in question was the result of her willing participation in the flight. She had full control of her destinty and, no doubt, knew her father was still in training. She wan't likely forced to participate and even if a subsequent act of his is judged to be reckless, it doesn't rise to manslaughter. It was not an act of agression directed at his daughter that led to her death, it was ill considered participation on both their parts.
This is a very slippery slope. Accidents are the unintended outcome accompanying any risk laced activity such as flying. We all know, I hope, that flying is an unnatural act that can lead to our deaths. Death can result from a simple poorly considered decision, or as a result of the anticipated excitement in the commission of an act - such as getting into an airplane with someone lacking the requisite skill or authority to fly the thing.
He may have been a damn fool, but he's not a murderer.