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Fatal Condition Missed By Pro-Pilot Medical

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Tony Corr, a British Boeing 737 pilot for Ryanair, died along with his friend, Richard Leonard, when the Piper Navajo they were flying on Jan. 15 crashed in the U.K., but the precise timing and reason for Corr's death may have other implications. A post-mortem examination showed Corr had 90-percent thickening in two of his three major arteries. Corr had passed his most recent medical in September of 2009 and was working for Ryanair instructing pilots in the 737-800 just days before the fatal accident. The pathologist who examined Corr's body said his condition could have caused arrhythmia, a heart attack or sudden death at any time, according to Witneygazette.co.uk. Karen Leonard, widow of Richard Leonard, framed the issue in a British court saying, "Surely, someone should have picked up on the serious nature of his heart condition." Said Leonard, "If they had, Richard and Tony would be alive today."

It was found in court that Corr's prior medicals had shown some minor irregularities, but his blood pressure was within a normal range and he did not indicate he had any symptoms. Corr had undergone an ECG test as part of one of his medical exams, but the test is not designed to pick up Corr's condition. The pathologist was unable to determine whether Corr died from his heart problems before the aircraft crashed, saying, "There is no convincing evidence that he was alive [prior to impact], but in circumstances like this it is difficult to tell."

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