NTSB Identification: LAX94FA125.
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Sunday, February 13, 1994 in LAKE TAHOE, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/01/1995
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28R-180, registration: N3775T
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

THE STUDENT PILOT DEPARTED SOUTH LAKE TAHOE AIRPORT FROM RUNWAY 18 AND REQUESTED A STRAIGHT OUT DEPARTURE TOWARD RAPIDLY RISING MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN. THE RECOMMENDED DEPARTURE PROCEDURE WAS TO PROCEED (ABOUT 1.5 MILES) SOUTH TO A GOLF COURSE AND CLIMB IN RIGHT TURNS TO 7500 FEET BEFORE DEPARTING THE AREA. THE PILOT HAD BEEN ADVISED OF REPORTED TURBULENCE WITH UP AND DOWNDRAFTS IN THE TAHOE BASIN. THE AIRCRAFT COLLIDED WITH RISING TERRAIN ABOUT 9400 FEET MSL, 6 MILES SOUTH OF THE AIRPORT. A PLASTIC STRAW WITH COCAINE RESIDUE WAS FOUND IN THE AIRPLANE. A TOXICOLOGY TEST OF THE PILOT'S BLOOD BY THE COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER SHOWED IT WAS POSITIVE FOR BENZOYLECGONINE AT A LEVEL OF 0.223 UG/ML. OTHER BLOOD TESTS (AT CAMI) SHOWED 0.181 UG/ML OF BENZOYLECGONINE AND 0.050 UG/ML OF ECGONINE METHYL ESTER. TESTS OF THE PILOT'S URINE SHOWED 0.032 UG/ML OF COCAINE, 6.048 UG/ML OF BENZOYLECGONINE AND 0.834 UG/ML OF ECGONINE METHYL ESTER.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

THE PILOT'S IMPAIRMENT OF JUDGMENT AND PERFORMANCE DUE TO DRUGS, WHICH LED TO HIS FAILURE TO FOLLOW THE RECOMMENDED DEPARTURE PROCEDURE, AND HIS FAILURE TO MAINTAIN SUFFICIENT ALTITUDE/CLEARANCE FROM RISING MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN. FACTORS RELATED TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: THE TERRAIN AND WEATHER CONDITIONS.

Full narrative available

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