Autopsy: One of 2 Pilots on Doomed Plane Had Drugs in System

But it's still not clear which pilot was flying plane that crashed in Scottsdale in April
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2018 1:40 PM CDT
Police tape cordons off an area near the site of the plane crash that killed six people on April 9, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(Newser) – Pieces are slowly coming together regarding an April plane crash in Scottsdale in which all six aboard were killed. At the front of the six-seat Piper PA-24 Comanche, which included as its passengers several young Instagram stars, were student pilot James Pedroza and certified airline transport pilot Erik Valente, though it's not clear who was actually flying the plane at the time of the April 9 crash, per the Arizona Republic. What is clear, however, based on autopsy reports released this week from the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office, is that the 28-year-old Pedroza had drugs in his system—cocaine, to be exact. It's not clear what, if any role, the cocaine played in the crash.

The medical examiner's reports also note all six victims suffered blunt force trauma, while five of them also suffered burn injuries (only 23-year-old victim Mariah Coogan, an Instagram star who had nearly 35,000 Instagram followers, wasn't burned). In February, Pedroza posted a picture on Instagram showing himself posing next to the plane that crashed, commenting, "New purchase! Piper Comanche 260 Can't wait to take this bad boy up and around for some adventures Whoohoo 6 seats." Besides Pedroza and Valente, who was 26, the other four killed in the crash were Anand Kamlesh Patel, also 26; Helena Lagos, 22; and Iris Carolina Rodriguez Garcia, 23, per People. A more comprehensive report on the crash will be released this year.

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