FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Investigators say health, mental, medication and flight issues likely contributed to a Jan. 22, 2018, plane crash in Florida that killed a pilot who had previously crashed a plane in Oregon.
The News Press reports the crash in Bonita Springs, Florida, killed 68-year-old Daniel Bernath.
The crash analysis in the final report submitted by the National Transportation Safety Board said Bernath was flying a Van’s Aircraft RV-12 within the yellow airspeed caution range and in excess of the craft’s maximum structural cruise speed. The RV-12 is a kit airplane that flying enthusiasts can build themselves.
And an autopsy of Bernath found three potentially impairing psychoactive medications: Citalopram, Mirtazapine and Trazadone, all antidepressants and all carrying warnings that they can impair judgment and motor skills as well as impede the mental or physical abilities.
The NTSB analysis cited Bernath’s significant coronary artery disease – he had a 50 to 75 percent narrowing of multiple coronary arteries – and said it was possible he could have suffered an acute cardiac event that affected his ability to control the plane.
In a Feb 2018 interview with Bernath’s wife, Martha Wong, NTSB investigators said she told them the couple moved to Florida from Oregon in 2014 and that Bernath had purchased the plane in Washington state.
The 2018 crash was not Bernath’s first. He walked away from a September 2013 plane crash in Oregon after he said his plane ran out of fuel. Information from an NTSB report on that crash said he was unhurt after he was forced to land his airplane near the Sisters Eagle Airport in Sister’s Oregon.