AP NEWS

Report: Pilot opioid use a cause in Nevada plane crash

March 6, 2019

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Opioid abuse by the pilot was among the likely causes of a fatal airplane crash in Nevada that killed the pilot and his two passengers, the National Transportation Safety Board has said.

The Reno Gazette Journal reported Tuesday that the agency names the likely causes of the September 2016 crash at Reno-Tahoe International Airport as pilot drug use and too much fuel for the single-engine aircraft’s weight limit.

The crash of the Piper PA-28 Cherokee aircraft killed pilot Robert Drescher, bail bondsman Stevenson Ranch, and Ronni Hernandez, a prisoner who was shackled at the time of the crash, the newspaper said.

A toxicology test showed the pilot had recently used three separate opioid drugs and a sedative that could have contributed to poor decisions, including overfilling the plane’s fuel tanks by 178 pounds (about 81 kilograms) beyond the maximum weight, the agency’s report said.

The newspaper named the pilot and the two passengers and provided the details about their backgrounds but said that the agency did not identify them in its report.

Drescher was certified as a private pilot, the Federal Aviation Administration website said.

The NTSB cited witness accounts, aircraft data and surveillance footage to describe the aircraft taking off and climbing to 200 feet (more than 60 meters) before it flew out of control and crashed into a parking lot.

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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

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