Negotiations over an insurance payout to a DeKalb County resident whose home was damaged in the 2019 crash of an airplane out of DeKalb-Peachtree Airport has been “resolved” in an undisclosed manner, according to an attorney.

John Patterson was one of two residents left temporarily homeless in the Oct. 30, 2019 crash of a private airplane that hit their townhomes at 2421 Peachwood Circle near I-85. The crash killed the pilot and a passenger. Debris smashed a huge hole in the roof of Patterson’s spare bedroom and fell through the floor into the kitchen below.

The townhomes on Peachwood Circle in DeKalb County shortly after they were damaged by a fatal 2019 plane crash. (File)

Patterson and his attorney, Alan Armstrong, said a month after the crash that they were seeking insurance compensation but were running into a hitch about whether the pilot was covered for the instrument-based flying he was doing at the time. 

Insufficient insurance is a common problem in private airplane crashes, Armstrong and other experts say. There is no federal or Georgia requirement that non-commercial pilots have liability insurance at all, and some beginners have policies that pay only $100,000. Policies that pay out $1 million total per incident are common, but that amount can quickly be consumed by the scale of damage and injuries from airplane crashes.

Asked for an update about the Peachwood Circle case, Armstrong in December said, “The matter is resolved,” adding that he cannot discuss the details. Patterson did not respond to a comment request.

DeKalb County Superior Court records show no filings for legal action in the matter.

Located on Clairmont Road in Chamblee on the Brookhaven border, PDK has a long history of accidents, including an infamous 1973 case where a jet crashed into a Buford Highway apartment building, killing seven people on the plane and severely injuring a resident with burning fuel. 

Since 2000, three residential properties have been hit by planes from PDK in DeKalb, Brookhaven, Chamblee and Lilburn. A total of 17 people have been killed in accidents in that time period, all pilots or passengers. Other planes from PDK have wrecked in residential or commercial areas or on highways. 

The 2019 crash raised safety concerns with some nearby residents as development increases around what was once a remote, semi-rural airport. However, experts say that PDK’s accident rates are not unusual and the risk to any given property is tiny. PDK officials have said that most accidents and near-misses happen within the airport property.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.