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On February 10, 1994, at 2251 eastern standard time, a Cessna A185F, N53064, registered to Timothy J. Bishop of Sterling Heights, Michigan, and operated by a commercial pilot, collided with an unlighted tower, while maneuvering in low level flight. The airplane was destroyed on impact with the tower, wires, and a residence. The pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries. The personal 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating in night visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan was on file for the local flight which departed Troy, Michigan, exact time unknown.
From early in the evening and into the night of the accident a social gathering was being held at the Sterling Heights Police lodge hall. Both the pilot/owner of the airplane involved and his passenger were members of the police department and had been observed in attendance at the lodge hall by several members of the Department. Witnesses at the hall stated that they observed both persons drinking alcoholic beverages and eating pizza. None of the witnesses at the hall indicted that they had any knowledge of a proposed flight by the two individuals. Their next indication of the flight occurred when the electrical power was lost at the lodge hall when the accident airplane severed power lines adjacent to and in front of the building.
Witnesses outside the hall stated that they saw the airplane approach from the south heading north at a low altitude, pass on the east side of the lodge hall, travel approximately one-quarter mile north of the building and initiate a 180 degree turn to the left. Witnesses vary in their opinion as to whether the impact with the unlighted tower occurred during the turn or as the airplane rolled wings level headed southbound. They did indicate that they heard a loud bang, followed a few seconds later by a bright flash when the airplane severed power lines. They stated that the airplane was emitting loud engine sounds during the flight.
An unlighted radio tower, power lines, and a private residence were damaged during the impact sequence.
The pilot-in-command held a commercial pilot certificate with privileges for operating single and multi engine land airplanes, single engine sea plane, and instrument privileges for airplanes. He also held a single engine airplane instructor's certificate. He held a second class medical certificate issued on January 13, 1993, with no limitations. No personal log books were located. On records furnished by the Federal Aviation Administration the pilot indicated a total time of 2,600 hours at his last medical examination. The date of his most recent biennial flight review was not determined.
The airplane was a Cessna A185F, N53064, serial number 18502352. The most recent annual inspection was conducted on February 18, 1993, at a total time of 5,177 hours.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane impacted a 115 foot tall radio transmission tower at the 95 foot level. A five foot section of the outboard portion of the right wing was found near the base of the tower.
The airplane continued southbound severing power lines between two poles approximately 30 feet above ground level.
Marks, scars and scratches on the frozen ground and the top leading edges of the wings indicated that the airplane impacted the terrain, in the driveway of a private residence, inverted. The airplane continued into a closed in breeze-way between the residence and a garage. The remainder of the right wing impacted an overhead garage door, dislodging it, while the left wing impacted the front outside wall of the residence. Both wings were partially separated from the fuselage. The fuselage continued into the breeze-way where it came to rest, inverted at the rear of the room. The engine separated from the fuselage and continued through the back wall of the breeze-way and slid to a stop, in the back yard of the residence, approximately 100 feet south of the rear wall of the breeze-way.
No mechanical anomalies in the airplane were noted during the on- scene investigation.
There was a strong fuel smell in the vicinity of the residence and throughout the wreckage.
The propeller blades had released from the hub and engine. They showed twist and bending along with leading edge scratching and gouging on the camber and face of the blades.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was preformed on the pilot-in-command by Werner U. Spitz, M.D. of St. Clair Shores, Michigan, on February `11, 1994. His examination revealed, "Far advanced atherosclerosis involving the coronary arteries and evidence of acute ischemic heart decease."
Dr. Spitz also stated that, "... (the) disease may have played a significant role in causing the crash." "The deceased had been consuming alcoholic beverages shortly prior to the crash, but the results of the blood analysis whereby a level of .18% was determined, are dismissed in view of the likely contamination of the specimen. Liver and kidney tissue analysis may be significant in providing more accurate information regarding the level of intoxication."
Dr. Spitz did not indicate the methodology by which the specimen of blood was or became contaminated.
A toxicological examination of specimens from the pilot-in- command was conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration Center for Aero-Medical Institute (CAMI), consisting of blood, urine, bile, and gastric contents (among others), revealed the following:
248.000 (mg/dl) Ethanol detected in Blood 63.000 (mg/dl) Ethanol detected in Urine 14.000 (mg/dl) Ethanol detected in Bile 710.000 (mg/dl) Ethanol detected in Gastric Contents 17.000 (mg/dl) Acetaldehyde detected in Bile 15.000 (mg/dl) Acetaldehyde detected in Blood
A copy of the toxicology report is attached to this report.
Party to the investigation was the Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office, Belleville, Michigan.
The wreckage was released to the Sterling Heights Michigan Police Department (pilot-in-command's employer) on February 11, 1994.