Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pilot Ticketed in Crop Dusting Accident

A pilot is being accused of violating the Illinois Pesticide Act. Josh Pavia has been ticketed for accidentally spraying more than 70 teenagers with fungicide in late July. The teens were working in a Champaign County field detasseling corn. Pavia was flying a crop-duster for North Carolina based Atlantic Ag Aviation. Police say Pavia isn’t facing criminal charges, he was ticketed on an Ag violation and could face a fine up to 750 dollars.

TUSCOLA -- More is now known about who is to blame for a crop dusting accident which sent more than 70 teenagers to the hospital. WCIA-3's Jeff Wagner has the details.

It's taken almost seven weeks to get to this point. The Illinois Department of Agriculture finished its investigation and says Atlantic Ag Aviation is behind the incident. The company is based in North Carolina, but also works out of the Tuscola airport. But for one parent, naming who's at fault isn't enough.

Mother Nicole Ferguson said, "$750, you know, that's nothing. (It) doesn't seem like a whole lot of money when you think about the lives of these kids."

$750, or about $10 per detasseler, is the maximum amount of money pilot Josh Pavia will have to pay if he's found guilty of applying a pesticide in a faulty, careless or negligent manner.

Ferguson said her son had to be hosed down and sent to the hospital after getting dusted with a fungicide. Investigators say the pilot was working in a neighboring field and accidentally sprayed the teens.

"I talked to that pilot that afternoon when we left the hospital. He admitted to flying over them."

But hearing what she already knew isn't enough for Ferguson. The investigation might be finished, but not for her and several other parents involved.

"When are we going to find out what was sprayed, why it was sprayed, and who's going to be held responsible? Well, we got who's going to be responsible answered, now we've got to get the other two answers, and what are the long term effects?"

Pavia will go in front of a judge next week. The owner of Atlantic Ag Aviation says the pilot isn't one of its employees. He says Pavia was subcontracted by another company but needed to use its airstrip in Tuscola.