Student pilot in crash that killed six had cocaine in his system
A student pilot was on cocaine and sitting in the front of the plane that crashed into an Arizona golf course, killing everyone aboard — including an Instagram model, according to a new report.
James Pedroza, 28, was seated in the front of his Piper PA-24 Comanche with certified airline transport pilot Erik Valente when it crashed on April 9, AZ Central reported.
Investigators didn’t specify which of the men was in control of the aircraft – but autopsy reports for the six victims released this week by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office showed Pedroza had cocaine in his system.
The jetsetter and VIP host at The Mirage nightclub in Las Vegas had boasted about the Feb. 7 purchase on Instagram but didn’t have his license yet, according to FAA records.
Everyone aboard had been headed to Las Vegas, posting Instagram stories showing how excited they were about their trip right before the plane took off.
But the six-seater aircraft struggled to gain altitude after takeoff and the wings began to rock – eventually becoming vertical – before the plane slammed intothe ground, the National Transportation Safety Board said.
Official details about what caused the crash haven’t been made available yet – but experts said the plane appeared to have been overloaded with passengers and luggage.
The victims included entrepreneur Akash “Happy” Patel, 26, and Mariah Sunshine Coogan, a 23-year-old Instagram model who palled around with Kendall Jenner.
Pedroza’s 22-year-old girlfriend Helena Lagos and Iris Carolina Rodriguez Garcia, 23, who appeared to have attended the Phoenix Lights music festival with some of the other victims, were also killed.
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