NTSB Identification: NYC06FA169.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, July 05, 2006 in Block Island, RI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/2008
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-200, registration: N5012S
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 pilot of the Piper PA-28R-200 departed from runway 28, under instrument meteorological conditions, with reported lightning and thunderstorms nearby. Shortly after takeoff, the airplane struck trees, and came to rest about 1/2 mile from the airport. Numerous broken and cut braches, consistent with the engine developing power were observed in the vicinity of the start of a 100-foot-long debris path. Examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any preimpact malfunctions. The pilot obtained weather information via a computer service about one hour prior to the flight. Another pilot who departed from the same runway, about 10 minutes prior to the accident flight said he was advised by a preflight briefer that an area of thunderstorms was moving toward the airport, and that the briefer recommended an immediate departure. The pilot said he departed within 5 minutes after the briefing and made a left turn, away from the weather that was approaching from the west. Witnesses near the accident site reported weather conditions that included "heavy rain," "thunder," "lighting," extremely cloudy," and "foggy" at the time of the accident. Toxicology testing indicated that the pilot, a physician, had recently been using bupropion and fluoxetine (prescription antidepressants) and oxcarbazepine (a mildly impairing anti-seizure medication also used for certain chronically painful conditions and to treat manic-depression). The FAA would not typically approve the use of any of these medications. The pilot had not indicated the use of these medications or the diagnosis of any conditions for which they would be used on his most recent application for airman medical certificate. The role of the medications or the conditions for which they may have been used could not be conclusively established in this accident.

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

The pilot's inadequate preflight decision making and his failure to maintain terrain clearance during departure. Contributing, were low ceilings, rain, and thunderstorms.

Full narrative available

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