Over-the-Counter Medicine Cited In Fatal Crash

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A pilot who died in the crash of his twin Cessna 441 had 10 times the normal dose of an over-the-counter sedating antihistamine in his blood, the NTSB said it in its final report, filed last week. "It is probable that the pilot's performance and judgment were substantially impaired by his very high blood level of chlorpheniramine," the NTSB said. The airplane had departed from its home base, Boca Raton (Fla.) Airport, on Dec. 30, 2003, headed for Palm Beach International Airport, 18 miles away. The pilot requested a practice ILS approach, but disappeared from radar about three miles from the airport. Witnesses saw the airplane descend and impact a canal. The 77-year-old pilot had an airline transport certificate. The NTSB said both engines and propellers were operating at the time of impact. The probable cause was found to be the pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control, which resulted in an inadvertent stall/spin and subsequent uncontrolled descent into a canal. A factor was the pilot's impairment by the drug chlorpheniramine.