It has been almost six years since the crash of Blackwater 61 in the mountains of Afghanistan and three years since Seattle Weekly first detailed the negligence surrounding the deaths of three U.S. service members. Army Spc. Harley Miller of Spokane, along with Chief Warrant Officer Travis Grogan and Lt.Col. Michael McMahon, one of the highest-ranking U.S. officers in Afghanistan, died in the crash along with three Blackwater crew members, one a former Washington state smoke-jumper pilot.
But there appears to be a settlement in the drawn-out lawsuit against Blackwater, now called Xe, brought by the widows of the three service members.
Sealed documents were filed in federal court last Friday, possibly detailing a settlement. Word of a tentative agreement first came as 60 Minutes revived the case in a new report a few weeks ago, airing the dramatic cockpit tape that indicated how distracted the pilots were as they flew into a box canyon with a mountain at the end. (Miller, whose mother lives in the Seattle area, was the one miraculous survivor, but Blackwater failed to rescue him in time). In the CBS interview, McMahon's widow, Jeanette, an Army colonel, listens for the first time to her husband's voice on the tape, her face darkening as a pilot says almost in prayer, "Come on baby, come on baby, you can make it!" before the plane stalls and hits the mountainside.
As SW earlier reported, a federal judge rejected Blackwater's argument it wasn't liable for damages as a military contractor, opening the door for a settlement.