Plane Crash: 5 Dead: Pilot on Prozac — (WESTERN EMPIRE)

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The Denver Post

June 14, 1997

VAIL – A report released by the National Transportation and Safety Board regarding a plane crash that killed five people near Eagle last November indicates the pilot had drugs in his system.   David Scripps LaDow and four passengers were killed when the plane LaDow was piloting crashed into a hillside 4 miles southeast of Eagle, minutes after takeoff from the Eagle County Regional Airport.

The other victims were Sara Hiller, 37, of Eden Prairie, Minn., and her three daughters, Morgan, 15, Caitlin, 10, and Kelsie, 8.   Deep-tissue samples taken by FAA pathologists revealed the pilot had fluoxetine (Prozac), an antidepressant, and hydrocodone, a pain killer, in his system.

“You’re not allowed to fly on those medications,” said Arnold Scott, lead investigator for the NTSB.

Copyright 1997 The Denver Post Corp.,   Record Number:  681066

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Cause of Piper AEROSTAR 601P Air Crash in EAGLE, COLORADO, USA on 11/17/1996

ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 37396

The noninstrument-rated pilot filed an IFR flight plan, but did not request nor was given a weather briefing. Shortly after taking off into low instrument meteorological conditions, he reported he was returning to the airport, but did not give a reason why. He never declared an emergency. The last transmission was when the pilot said he had ‘the problem resolved,’ and was continuing on to his destination. Various witnesses said the engines were ‘revvying’ and ‘unsynchronized,’ and that the propellers were being ‘cycled.’ One witness said brownish-black smoke trailed from the right engine. The airplane struck one ridge, then catapulted approximately 1,000 feet before striking another ridge. There was postimpact fire. Both propellers bore high rotational damage. Disassembly of the engines, propellers, turbochargers, and various components failed to disclose what may have prompted the pilot to want to return to the airport. Internal components of the right engine, however, were black and, according to a Textron Lycoming representative, were indicative of ‘an excessively rich mixture.’ A psychiatrist had recently treated the pilot for depression, attention deficit and bipolar disorders. The pilot also had a history of alcohol and drug abuse. Postmortem toxicology protocol disclose the presence of Fluoxetine (an antidepressant), Norfluoxetine (its metabolite), and Hydrocodone (the most commonly prescribed opiate).

ASN Aircraft accident 17-NOV-1996 Piper Aerostar 601P N251B

CAUSE: The pilot initiating flight into known adverse weather conditions without proper certification. Factors were the meteorological conditions that existed — low ceiling, low visibility, and falling snow — and his use of contraindicated drugs.