Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Aaliyah died by drugged, drunk pilot’s hand

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. Inspection of the plane’s engine, airframe, propeller and fuel system, however, has shown no cause for malfunction, authorities said on Tuesday.

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

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Environmental groups welcome China’s pledge on coal

Will China’s end of coal finance be the final nail in the coffin for MMESZ?

More top stories

Environmentalists are trying to save South Africa’s obscure endangered species

Scientists are digging for De Winton’s golden moles, working on the mystery of the riverine rabbit and using mesh mattresses to save the unique Knysna seahorse

Shadow states infest Africa’s democracies

Two recent reports show evidence that democracy in Africa is being threatened by private power networks

The West owes Africa $100bn (at least) for climate recovery

In fewer than three days, a US citizen emits as much carbon as a person from Chad or Niger does in one year. Such is the asymmetry in culpability for climate change.

Environmental groups welcome China’s pledge on coal

Will China’s end of coal finance be the final nail in the coffin for MMESZ?

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…