Relatives of a student who died in an Ohio plane crash are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit over suspicion that the crash may have been a fraternity event gone wrong.
Four students from Case Western Reserve University – Abraham Pishevar, 18, Lucas Marcelli, 20, John Hill, 18, and Michael Felten, 19 – died in the Aug. 25 crash.
Felten, a licensed pilot, was flying the Cessna 172R. According to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board, Felten told air-traffic controllers he was going to “fly east to sightsee.” A loss of control shortly after takeoff likely caused the accident, according to the NTSB report.
Prior to the crash, Marcelli shared a video from the cockpit.
“Cleared for takeoff,” he wrote.
Marcelli and Felten were members of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. According to documents filed in court Tuesday, Pishevar’s parents believe the students may have been on the plane as part of a ZBT fraternity rush or recruitment event.
Pishevar shared photos on Snapchat before the crash, writing, “About to go on a night flight” and “rush” in the posts.
“The Snapchat photo that you’ve seen which has a heading 'Rush' on it goes to what Abraham’s state of mind was,” family attorney Jamie Lebovitz said.
Pishevar’s family is seeking safety, insurance and other records from the fraternity and the flying club that rented the students the plane.
In a statement, Zeta Beta Tau says the flight was not connected to the fraternity, saying, “We have been assured … that the flight was not a recruitment event.”
Bita Pishevar Haynes, Abraham’s aunt, said his family was overwhelmed by the suddenness of his death and is still trying to figure out what happened the night of the crash.
“Abraham was starting out his first day at Case Western when this tragedy happened,” she said.
Haynes said Abraham’s relatives weren’t aware of his interest in joining a fraternity.
“No one from our family knew he was even rushing,” she said.