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01 Jan 2002 00:00
The pilot of the small plane that crashed in the Bahamas last year - killing 22-year-old US singer and actress Aaliyah, and seven others had traces of cocaine and alcohol in his body, aviation officials said on Tuesday.
An autopsy performed on Luis Antonio Morales Blanes’ body revealed cocaine in his urine and traces of alcohol in his stomach, the Bahamas Department of Civil Aviation said in a statement on the results of an inquiry into the wreckage.
Authorities are investigating how the substances might have affected the pilot at the time of the August crash.
Morales (30) was sentenced to three years probation on charges of crack cocaine possession 12 days before the crash.
Aaliyah, who was already a two-time Grammy nominee for best female R&B vocalist, was leaving the Bahamas following a video shoot when the Cessna 402-B crashed during takeoff.
All nine people aboard died.
The autopsy information on Morales was released for the first time on Tuesday along with results from inspections on the airplane’s wreckage.
The report said the plane may not have undergone fuel-pump wiring modifications required in August 1988.
Unidentified particles and corrosion found in the fuel filters were “indications that routine maintenance was not being performed,” the statement said.
The investigative committee has not yet been able to talk to the plane’s owner, or inspect the engine or aircraft log books, which would show maintenance.
The twin-engine plane was also at least 317 kilograms overweight, investigators have said.
Although nine people were on board, the plane is certified to carry only up to eight including the pilot.
In May, the parents of Aaliyah filed a lawsuit against Virgin Records, alleging that negligence and recklessness caused the plane crash.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Diane and Michael Haughton, also named several video production companies and Black hawk International Airways, the company that operated the plane.
Neither Black hawk nor Sky stream, the plane’s registered owner, had a permit to operate commercial charter flights in the Bahamas, investigators said.
Black hawk officials couldn’t be reached for comment. - Sapa-AP
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