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Report: Pilot in double-fatal Darke County plane crash left rehab weeks before incident

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 1:48 PM

Report: Pilot in double-fatal Darke County plane crash left rehab weeks before incident

The pilot in a Darke County plane crash that killed him and his passenger in 2016 had cocaine, alcohol and other drugs in his system at the time of the crash, according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board released this week.

Clayton Heins, 20, took off from a private grass airstrip around 8 a.m. on Sept. 14 before crashing in a field near Dull Road.

Heins passenger, Jacob Turner, 18, also was killed in the crash.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Preliminary report out in fatal Darke County plane crash

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The wreckage was found in a cornfield, about 150 yards east of a railroad bed and north of Dull Road by a family member in a search plane, which had been sent up because the victims had been reported as missing and unaccounted for, a Darke County deputy said.

Heins was a student pilot.

“Although federal regulations do not allow a student pilot to carry passengers, the student pilot and a passenger departed from a private airstrip on a personal flight in the airplane,” the report read.  “During the flight the passenger posted on social media a video that showed the airplane maneuvering at a low altitude.”

Toxicology testing of Heins “indicated the use of multiple psychoactive drugs, including alprazolam, cocaine, ethanol and hydroxyzine.”

“The combined effects of these drugs likely impaired his ability to safely perform low-altitude maneuvers,” the report read.

The NTSB determined the probable cause of the crash to be a result of the “student pilot’s reckless flying attitude and use of multiple psychoactive drugs, which likely impaired his ability to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering at low altitude,” according to the report.

Heins has accumulated 31 total hours of flying and his last recorded flight before the crash was on Dec. 23, 2012, according to the report.

The NTSB reported people interviewed by law enforcement told investigators that two weeks before the crash, Heins “had returned from a substance abuse rehabilitation facility where he was treated for heroin addiction for about 30 days,” the report read.

The airplane involved in the crash, which was registered to Heins’ father, was a Piper PA 11.

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