$12.8M suit filed by estate of man killed in WWII tank blast

BEND, Ore. (AP) — The family of an Oregon man killed when a cannon shell exploded in his World War II-era tank has filed a $12.8 million lawsuit.

The Bulletin reports Steve Preston’s family is suing Chuck Hegele, the contractor who supplied powder for the shell.

Preston and his assistant Austin Lee were killed inside Preston’s 1944 M-18 Hellcat, a tank destroyer, at a gun range outside of Bend in 2015.

The lawsuit says Preston contracted with Hegele to supply and supervise use of ammunition for a firing demonstration. The lawsuit says he used old propellant.

Hegele tells the news the Bend newspaper Preston is responsible for his own death. He says Preston made mistakes, including overloading the shell.

Lee’s estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit in February against Hegele and others.