NTSB Identification: FTW95FA393.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, September 13, 1995 in WITTER, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/08/1997
Aircraft: Cessna 172M, registration: N61899
Injuries: 3 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 flight originated during early morning hours, and the airplane was reported missing at 0930; it was found atop a heavily wooded mountain ridge. A ground witness who lived near the accident site reported that there was heavy fog in the vicinity during the early morning hours. Investigation revealed that the airplane had collided with trees. It then descended through the trees for approximately 420 feet until it struck the ground and came to rest inverted. Examination of the airplane and engine revealed no evidence of a malfunction that would have contributed to the accident. Toxicology tests of the pilot's blood showed a low level (0.365 mcg/ml) of Methamphetamine and 25 mg/dl Ethanol. There was evidence that the Ethanol was due to post-mortem production. A test of the pilot's urine showed 0.059 mcg/ml Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (inactive metabolite of marijuana), but none was detected in his blood. According to an FAA regional flight surgeon, the level of an inactive metabolite in the pilot's urine indicated that he had been under the influence of marijuana sometime in the past. Methamphetamine is a stimulant that is not approved by the FAA for use while operating an aircraft.

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

failure of the pilot to maintain sufficient altitude/clearance from high/wooded terrain. Factors relating to the accident were: darkness, high terrain, and foggy weather conditions. Also, the pilot's use of Methamphetamine (not approved by the FAA) was a possible factor.

Full narrative available

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