ASOTIN - A civil lawsuit that was filed by the parents of a young Lewiston pilot following a fatal helicopter crash in 2015 is set for a two-week trial next spring in Asotin County.

The lawsuit filed by Kent and Heidi Simmons alleges negligence by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Clearwater Power Co. caused a crash that killed their 17-year-old son, Hayden Simmons, and his 16-year-old cousin, Hudson Simmons.

Lawsuits filed on behalf of the boys' estates, seeking unspecified damages to be proven at trial, have been consolidated and moved from Thurston County to Asotin County Superior Court. Five thick court files containing hundreds of pages of documents were transferred across the state as the civil case continues.

Earlier this week, a two-week trial date was set to begin May 13. The next round of oral arguments for summary judgment, which could eliminate the need for a trial or simplify the proceeding, is scheduled to continue Sept. 15.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board report, Hayden Simmons, a certified pilot, was flying a Hughes 269C helicopter over Ayers Canyon, south of Asotin, on the morning of July 1, 2015, when the craft hit two power lines strung across the canyon.

Most of Ayers Canyon, also known as Ayers Gulch, is owned by the state of Washington and part of the Asotin Creek Wildlife Area managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The power lines are operated by Clearwater Power.

The lawsuit alleges the power lines and utility poles were unmarked and "invisible" or "very difficult" to see, and the lines "constituted an unsafe and dangerous condition to aircraft in flight over Ayers Canyon."

The defendants had a duty to mark the lines and poles and remove decommissioned poles in the area, according to the lawsuit.

Court documents filed by the state agency and the power company deny the lines were unmarked and that they were more than 400 feet above the canyon floor. They did acknowledge the poles lacked any special marking and the line did not have balls or special markings, but they argue such markings were neither necessary nor required.

According to documents filed by the defendants, the pilot was negligent rather than the state or power company.

The state asserted it owns land on the west side of the gulch, but said the land on the east side is owned by the Pamela H. Ausman Trust. In addition, Clearwater Power Co. denied owning any decommissioned poles in the area.


Sandaine may be contacted at or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.