Autopsy: Pilot in Helicopter Crash That Killed MDC-T’s Roy Bennett Had Fentanyl in Blood System

FILE - This Oct. 16, 2009 file photo shows Senior Zimbabwean MDC opposition official Roy Bennett, left, and his wife Heather, relax at a friends home in Mutare about 200 km east of Harare, following his release from prison. A fiery helicopter crash killed Bennett and his wife, while on holiday in a remote part of the U.S. state of New Mexico and four others aboard, friends and authorities said. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi,File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A helicopter pilot had a low concentration of fentanyl in his blood during a crash in New Mexico that killed him and four other people including Zimbabwean opposition leader Roy Bennett, according to autopsy results obtained on Friday.

Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid and pain medication, was found in the autopsy report for Jamie Coleman Dodd, the lead pilot in the January crash in northeastern New Mexico.

The report didn’t say whether Dodd may have been taking fentanyl for health reasons. Prior reports have not indicated that drugs were a cause of the crash.

Autopsies also were performed on co-pilot Paul Cobb and wealthy businessman Charles Burnett III — also killed in the crash on a grassy mesa top east of Raton.

All three men died of blunt force trauma. Burns also were a cause of death for Burnett. Bennett’s wife, Heather, also died in the crash.

Cobb had no drugs in his system, while Burnett had alcohol, amphetamine and oxycodone present in his, medical examiners determined.

The sole survivor of the crash, Andra Cobb, of Texas, later recounted her experience, saying the aircraft hit the ground with a loud bang before rolling forward, stopping upside down and bursting into flames.

A report by the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed that the weather was clear the night of the crash, and that Dodd had thousands of hours of flying experience. The pilot was able to call 911 but later died at a hospital. – VOA