Saturday, April 06, 2013

Alcohol may be factor in plane crash: Caddo Parish, Louisiana

Caddo Parish deputies say the crash could have been the combined result of alcohol use and mechanical failure

A wedding in north Caddo Parish was crashed Saturday evening, but not by uninvited guests.

An airplane crashed in the soybean field across from the cotton gin wedding venue on Hwy. 3049.

The two-seater ultralight plane crashed just before 8 p.m. after taking off from a private farm.

“We’re not sure where it was heading,” Caddo sheriff’s Cpl. Mike Vaitkus said. “It had been experiencing mechanical issues all day and they decided to take it up for a flight.”

The engine failed, and as the pilot was gliding down for an emergency landing, he apparently misjudged power lines. The landing gear caught the lines, sending the plane into a spin and nose diving into a soybean field.

The pilot sustained moderate injuries to his legs and was transported to LSU Hospital.

The passenger was not injured.

The pilot had been drinking prior to the flight, and the passenger was drinking in flight, Vaitkus said. Open containers of alcohol were found inside the wreckage.

The sheriff’s office has turned the investigation over to the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.

Criminal charges are pending, Vaitkus said.

The crash did not deter the wedding celebration.

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Caddo Parish authorities say the pilot and passenger of an ultra-light aircraft that crashed in a field in eastern Caddo Parish had been drinking.

It happened just before 8 p.m. near the intersection of Sentell Road and Shreveport Dixie Road.

Caddo Parish deputies say the crash could have been the combined result of alcohol use and mechanical failure.

According to Cpl. Mike Vaitkus, the plane had taken off from a private farm. It's not clear where they were heading. Officers were told that they had been experiencing maintenance issues all day with the aircraft, and had been working on the engine.

They reportedly had mechanical problems in flight. The pilot told police the engine had cut off and they were gliding in for an emergency landing in a nearby cornfield when the landing gear caught some power lines.

That sent the aircraft into a spin, dose-diving into the field.

Cpl. Vaitkus says the pilot is believed to have been drinking before the flight, and that the passenger was drinking during the flight. Open containers were found inside the downed aircraft.

The pilot was taken to LSU Shreveport Health with moderate injuries. Earlier, Caddo Parish dispatch said it was possible one of the victims had a fractured leg.

Cpl. Vaitkus says the investigation into the crash has been turned over to the FAA. 

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