IAD03LA036
IAD03LA036

On March 14, 2003, at 2345 eastern standard time, a passenger was fatally injured when he was struck by a rotating propeller. The airplane, a Cessna 172, N1444V, was not damaged, and the certificated commercial pilot was not injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that was supposed to depart from Richmond International Airport (RIC), Richmond, Virginia, and was destined for Laurel Airport (N06), Laurel, Delaware. The business flight was to be conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector performed an on-scene examination of the airplane and interviewed the pilot. According to the inspector, the pilot and the passenger were employed by a news agency in Delaware, and were in Richmond to cover a sporting event. The airplane was parked at a fixed base operator.

In a written statement, the pilot stated that he and the passenger conducted a preflight inspection, and boarded the airplane. After starting the engine, the pilot noticed that the wheel chock had not been removed from the left main landing gear. He then asked the passenger to go behind the airplane, and pull it away. Before the passenger exited the airplane, the pilot repeated to him, "go to the back of the airplane, do not go to the front."

While the passenger exited the airplane, the pilot pulled the power all the way back to idle in order to reduce the blast of air. The pilot then saw the passenger step toward the front of the airplane, and screamed "no, stop," but the passenger could not hear him. The passenger was then struck by the moving propeller.

The pilot then turned the engine off, departed the airplane, and emergency personnel were notified.

There were no other witnesses to the accident.

A toxicological examination was conducted on the passenger by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Results of the testing revealed that the passenger tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (marijuana) in the blood, and tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (marijuana), in the blood and liver.

The pilot said that he never saw the pilot smoking marijuana or was even aware that he did. He said there wasn't the "slightest" indication that he used illegal substances on the day of the accident.

The pilot reported a total of 4,150 flight hours, of which, 500 hours were in make and model.

Weather at the time of the accident included wind from 160 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, and few clouds at 2,500 feet


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