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Thu, Nov 20, 2003

Toxicology Tests Positive In LA Crash

Alcohol, Cocaine Found In Pilot's System

When a Beechcraft B-36 plunged into an apartment complex in Los Angeles's Fairfax district last June, the pilot's wife was flabbergasted. Judy Gantz Siegel said her husband, 50-year old Jeffrey Siegel, was a "very skilled pilot" who had flown for decades. "I can't believe it," she told reporters. "I want to hear an explanation of what happened. He is such a good pilot."

Now, investigators say they have another piece of the puzzle. Toxicology reports from the LA coroner's office indicate the presence of alcohol and cocaine were found in Siegel's body after the crash.

The June 6th crash left five people, including Siegel, dead. Four were on board the aircraft. The fifth was a 76-year-old resident of the apartment building. Seven people on the ground were hurt.

The aircraft gouged a crater in the center of the apartment building when it crashed about seven minutes after take-off from Santa Monica Airport (CA). Siegel had reportedly conversed with the control tower there, been advised to switch frequencies to talk to TRACON, but never made the transition. Witnesses say the aircraft's engine made unusual noises just before it plunged into the Hollywood-area apartment building.

But just how much of a factor were the drugs and alcohol? Mrs. Siegel says the coroner told her Jeffrey's blood alcohol level was below the legal limit for driving -- 0.08 percent.

**   Report created 6/9/2003   Record 11  **
IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 1856P        Make/Model: BE36      Description: 36 Bonanza
  Date: 06/06/2003     Time: 2255
  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Fatal     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed
LOCATION
  City: SANTA MONICA   State: CA   Country: US
DESCRIPTION
  ACFT ON DEPARTURE, CRASHED INTO AN APARTMENT BUILDING AND WAS DESTROYED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES, FOUR PERSONS ON BOARD WERE FATALLY INJURIED AND UNKNOWN PERSONS IN THE BUILDING WERE FATALLY INJURIED, OTHER INJURIES TO THOSE ON THE GROUND ARE UNKNOWN, OCCURRED 6 MILES NE OF SANTA MONICA, CA
INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   4
                 # Crew:  2     Fat:   2     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:  
                 # Pass:   2     Fat:   2     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:  
                 # Grnd:         Fat:    0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   Y
WEATHER: SMO 1551PDT 26010KT 10SM OVC031
OTHER DATA
  Activity: Pleasure      Phase: Take-off      Operation: General Aviation
  Departed: SANTA MONICA, CA            Dep Date:    Dep. Time:
  Destination: SUN VALLEY, ID           Flt Plan: VFR          Wx Briefing: U
  Last Radio Cont: 6 MI NE OF SMO ARPT
  Last Clearance: CLRD FOR TAKEOFF
  FAA FSDO: LOS ANGELES, CA  (WP23)               Entry date: 06/09/2003

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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