Idaho airman's family settles with Air Force

Idaho airman's family settles with Air Force »Play Video
(AP Photo/Adelia Sue Anderson)
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The parents of a female Idaho airman who the military says killed herself shortly after she was deployed to the Pacific in 2011 will get $6,500 to cover attorney fees after suing the U.S. Air Force for information about their daughter's death.

The settlement was made public Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Idaho. It covers the legal costs that Orofino residents Christopher Anderson and Adelia Sue Anderson incurred as they sought records about Kelsey Sue Anderson's death. The parents said the Air Force didn't comply with federal public records laws before it released the investigation this summer.

Kelsey Anderson died June 9, 2011, at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound from her service revolver.

The agreement reflects the "full and complete satisfaction of plaintiffs' claims for attorneys' fees and litigation costs arising out of their action brought under the Freedom of Information Act," according to the deal released publicly Wednesday before the case's dismissal Thursday by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill.

According to court documents, the Air Force says it admits no liability or fault as part of the settlement.

The parents filed the lawsuit in late June, seeking to force the Air Force to turn over its investigative records into their daughter's death. Through their attorney, the Andersons argued that the government had repeatedly missed legal deadlines or ignored their formal appeals to disclose information they legally had a right to see.

Enlisting U.S. Sen. Jim Risch's office for help still didn't yield results, they said.

Amid their two-year wait for the records, the Andersons worried the Air Force wasn't being forthright about what preceded Kelsey Anderson's death. She was found in a locked stall in a second-floor women's bathroom inside an aircraft maintenance hangar at the base.

The Air Force released its investigation this summer and provided a copy to The Associated Press in September.

When it was released, the report included hundreds of pages of heavily redacted interviews, some of them indicating that Kelsey Anderson may have been unhappy after trying and failing to be transferred from Guam or released from military service.

Among other things, the report said that in early May 2011 — a few months after her arrival and weeks before her death — Anderson's weapons privileges were suspended after concerns emerged about her mental health.

The Andersons' lawyer, Matthew Crotty of Spokane, Wash., said the prolonged wait and anxiety of suing the federal government in a last-ditch effort for information intensified the pain the couple experienced after the loss of their daughter.

"As a father of three children, I can't imagine losing a child thousands of miles away, and not knowing what happened, and then having to wait nearly two years before the government decided to produce the information," Crotty said in an interview Friday.