MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – The widow of a man who died in a 2020 plane crash is suing Charleston officials, claiming too-tall trees at Mount Pleasant Regional Airport caused the plane to go down.

Mary Gigliobianco is the personal representative of the estate of her late husband, Michael Gigliobianco, who died April 9, 2020 when the Arion Lightning LS-1 aircraft N81DJ in which he was traveling hit a tree near the airport and crashed.

The lawsuit claims that “the trees at the departure end” of the runway “were 75-90 feet above the surface, which penetrated the protected airspace and posed a danger to safe flight.”

According to the lawsuit, the Charleston County Airport District, Charleston County Aviation authority, and South Carolina Aeronautics Commission are at fault because they failed to maintain safe conditions.

“As the owner, operators, and overseers of Mount Pleasant Regional Airport-Faison
Field, the Defendants were at all times relevant bound by the federal aviation regulations and other obligations to ensure safe conduct of flight operations at the airport and for the benefit and safety of the flying public, to include making sure that there were no obstructions to air navigation specifically at the approach and departure ends of the runway,” the lawsuit states. It goes on to claim that the agencies “have the power and obligation with respect to the prohibition, removal, and mitigation of obstacles to air navigation.”

Gigliobianco is suing for “all actual and compensatory damages suffered by Michael Gigliobianco, including without limitation all injuries, pain and suffering, mental anguish, terror, knowledge of bodily injury, and impending death,” as well as for the actual and compensatory damages she suffered due to the loss of her husband.