The death of a pilot who fell from a twin-engine plane in North Carolina in July was an accident, according to his autopsy report.
Charles Hew Crooks, 23, who was co-piloting the CASA CN-212 Aviocar on July 29, suffered multiple blunt-force injuries in an accidental fall, according to an autopsy report obtained Wednesday by NBC News from the office of the chief medical examiner. from North Carolina.
The report concluded that Crooks “did not have any significant natural disease.”
A toxicology report showed that Crooks was tested for amphetamines, cocaine and opioids and that “toxicology tests did not detect alcohols or common drugs of abuse.”
Crooks was flying for a private company that was dropping paratroopers from a back ramp in a small private field, according to the autopsy. During the aircraft’s third landing approach, the landing gear was damaged. With no one on board except Crooks and the pilot, the aircraft headed toward Raleigh-Durham International Airport and notified air traffic control of the landing gear problem. The autopsy said the plane encountered turbulence and Crooks told the pilot that he was not feeling well.
“They were flying at approximately 3,500 feet with the rear ramp open for ventilation. The aircraft encountered moderate turbulence,” the report said. “At some point, the deceased (co-pilot) opened a cockpit window for air and possibly to vomit. Some time later, he told the pilot that he was sorry he was going to get sick and apologized. He then he left the cabin towards the open rear ramp; at some point, the pilot realized that he had apparently fallen out of the aircraft”.
According to a preliminary report on the incident from the National Transportation Safety Board, Crooks seemed “visibly upset” when he told the pilot that he was feeling sick and needed air.
The pilot, who has not been publicly identified, told investigators that Crooks did not appear to reach a bar about 6 feet above the ramp, the report says.
Crooks was not wearing a parachute.
Previously, the pilots were carrying paratroopers when their plane “drooped” and its landing gear hit a runway, the report says.
The robbers declared an emergency and coordinated with air traffic controllers at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, according to the report.
After about 20 minutes, Crooks became “visibly upset” about the crash landing and stopped communicating with air traffic controllers, the report says.
After Crooks fell from the plane, the pilot in command alerted air traffic controllers and went looking for him, the report says.
The plane landed in a grassy area near the Raleigh airport around 2:40 p.m.
Crooks’ body was found in a Fuquay-Varina neighborhood, southwest of Raleigh, about five hours after a resident heard a noise in their backyard.
Crooks’ father, Hew Crooks, said NBC affiliate WRAL of Raleigh that his son was a certified flight instructor who had spent years working to become a pilot.
“He got his private pilot’s license while he was in college. I think he got it when he was a sophomore,” Crooks told the station. “He told him a couple of weeks ago that he wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the world. He loved where he was.
“I can’t imagine what happened,” he added. “We’ll figure it out, I guess.”
Tim Stelloh Y Minyvonne Burke contributed.