Pilot blamed for Lomita crash — (Daily Breeze News)

SSRI Ed note: Pilot on two antidepressants sets fuel valve to empty tank, causing fatal crash.

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Daily Breeze News

By Art Marroquin, Staff Writer

Article Launched: 08/07/2008 12:08:30 AM PDT

The Aug. 11, 2007, plane crash into a Lomita backyard was due to pilot error, investigators said. (Scott Varley/Staff Photographer)

The 76-year-old pilot of a single-engine Cessna that crashed into a Lomita neighborhood last summer had his fuel valve switched to an empty tank, the National Transportation Safety Board reported this week.   The lack of fuel caused the plane to lose power and crash on Aug. 11, 2007, killing pilot Fred Munoz of San Pedro, according to the NTSB.

Munoz apparently took off from Torrance Municipal Airport with the fuel selector positioned to a nearly empty fuel tank in the left wing of the plane, the NTSB stated.

When the plane lost power, Munoz tried to restart the engine by switching to a fuel tank in the plane’s right wing, which was loaded with about 18 to 20 gallons of gasoline.   But Munoz’s effort was unsuccessful and the Cessna 210 clipped the roof of a house in the 2300 block of 246th Place in Lomita, flipped upside down and landed in the bushes of the house next door at 3:19 p.m., according to authorities. He did not send out a distress signal before crashing.

The four-seater crashed due to “the loss of engine power during approach as a result of fuel starvation due to the pilot’s improper pre-takeoff fuel system selector valve positioning,” the NTSB report stated. “Contributing to the accident was the lack of suitable terrain for the forced landing.”

Munoz died at a hospital shortly after the accident. One of his dogs suffered minor injuries in the crash while the other two escaped from the wreckage unharmed.

A toxicology test revealed that Munoz was taking two prescribed antidepressant medications that are not usually approved for pilot use by the Federal Aviation Administration, the NTSB reported.

Munoz, a Korean War veteran, did not have a medical certificate on file with the FAA.