The story of the plane crash that tragically broke apart one family and set up some disturbingly complex insurance and liability issues.
In his nonfiction debut, magazine journalist Fowler pieces together the compelling story of Minnesota native Toby Pearson and his unfortunate ties to the crash of a noncommercial airplane that went down in the vast woodlands near Lake Superior. That small aircraft was carrying Pearson’s wife and two daughters. Although his wife died in the crash, his daughters miraculously survived, albeit with life-changing burn injuries and trauma that would burden them the rest of their lives. As the bills for his daughters’ injuries mounted, Pearson was faced with the possibility of his insurance company not paying out for his daughters’ injuries, and he became embroiled in a labyrinthine mess of a legal situation that can be traced all the way back to the pilot of the downed plane having initially given fraudulent insurance information, a misstep that had the potential to make Pearson’s already difficult situation a lot worse. What’s more, now Pearson faced a significant battle with a multibillion-dollar insurance company. Fowler does a meticulous job of getting readers acquainted with Pearson and his family and providing a solid account of their lives before and after the crash. He manages to solidify the personal angle of the Pearsons’ harrowing story while also using this as an entry point into a larger investigation into both lax aviation safety standards in the private/noncommercial field and questions of who is liable for what damage according to the insurance industry. The author’s maintenance of this balance between the more delicate intimacies of Toby Pearson’s post-crash family life and the more reportorial and investigative side of the book works well.
A sensitive portrayal of a family tragedy needlessly escalated by the insensitive bureaucracy of insurance companies.