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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: DEN02FA017
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Saturday, January 05, 2002 in Boulder, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/26/2003
Aircraft: Cessna 172K, registration: N78035
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.

Radar data indicates that the pilot was airborne for approximately 34 minutes when he began squawking 7700 (emergency transmission). Witnesses said the airplane flew straight and level into the mountain. The pilot's wife said that he was being treated for depression. A psychotherapist reported that the pilot had been seeing her for approximately 2 and a half months, twice a week, for severe depression. She said he was also taking an anti-depressant medication. She further stated that the pilot told her that if "he killed himself, he would do it in a plane, and crash it with only himself in it." On March 7, 2002, the Boulder County coroner ruled the pilot's manner of death as suicide.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • the pilot's intentional suicidal flight into terrain. Contributing factors were the pilot's psychological depressive state, and his use of inappropriate medication.