NTSB Blames Pilot's Drug Use For Deadly Tahlequah Helicopter Crash

Thursday, July 22nd 2010, 3:56 pm
By: News On 6


TAHLEQUAH, OK -- The National Transportation Safety Board blames the pilot's drug use and lack of sleep for a helicopter crash last year that killed him and his female passenger.

The crash happened before dawn on October 14th near the Tahlequah airport, killing pilot Mark James Mahaney, 26, and his passenger, Darci Lynn Scraper, 20.

According to the NTSB's probable cause report released Thursday afternoon, the crash was caused by "the pilot's impairment due to recent heavy use of methamphetamine, recent use of a narcotic pain reliever, and fatigue."

The NTSB's report says toxicology findings uncovered the pilot's "recent use of impairing doses of a narcotic pain reliever (prescribed the day prior to the accident following a dental procedure) and recent heavy use of methamphetamine."

The report goes on to say that the pilot "did not report a history of substance dependence, illicit substance use, or his history of multiple alcohol related traffic offenses to the FAA."

The News On 6 has reported that the FAA was investigating the pilot at the time of the crash.

4/13/2010:  Related story:  FAA Was Investigating Pilot Involved In Deadly Tahlequah Helicopter Crash 

According to the report, the pilot had stayed up all night watching movies with friends and was planning to go hunting with a friend the morning of the crash.  He was set to meet the friend to go hunting after putting his helicopter away. 

Deadly Tahlequah Helicopter Crash

Investigators say the weather was bad that morning, with mist as well as darkness reducing visibility.  However, the NTSB says Mahaney was not certified for instrument flight and found no evidence that he'd even received any training for flying solely by relying on instruments.