Federal report reveals cause of fatal plane crash in Harker Heights | Breakup

A fatal plane crash outside Seton Medical Center Harker Heights in 2020 was caused by engine failure, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report.

Although not directly listed as the cause, the report also states that the pilot may have been impaired due to medication.

In the late morning of September 24, 2020, David Wesley, 71, of Killeen, and Stephen Cockrell, 54, of Killeen, departed Skylark Field in Killeen in Wesley’s Quicksilver MXII. The Quicksilver MXII is an ultralight two-seater aircraft that almost resembles a hang glider.

As the men returned to Skylark Field, witnesses said they knew something was wrong because the plane was flying too low to the ground.

Harker Heights and Killeen emergency crews work at the scene of a fatal plane crash near Seton Medical Center in Harker Heights in September 2020.

In dash cam footage of the crash, the craft could be seen flying low with its wings swaying from side to side and gaining speed as it crashes into a railing outside Seton Medical Center. The accident claimed the lives of Wesley and Cockrell.

The NTSB report seems to provide answers on the causes of the accident.

According to the report, the probable cause of the crash was engine failure caused by what the report calls a “cold snap.”

“Cold seizure results from thermal imbalance of pistons and cylinders due to improper engine heating and excessive temperature differences between coolant exiting the engine and entering the engine,” the report states.

But the report also gives insight into the medical and pathological examination of Wesley, the pilot.

The report revealed that Wesley had the drugs hydrocodone and chlorpheniramine in his system. Hydrocodone is an opioid usually prescribed and chlorpheniramine is an over-the-counter antihistamine as an allergy medicine or sleeping pill.

“The pilot was at risk of being impaired by the combined effects of hydrocodone and chlorpheniramine. However, it is impossible to determine whether the adverse effects of these drugs contributed to the accident,” the report states.

It should also be noted that the plane was involved in another crash almost 12 years before the 2020 accident when the plane was damaged in a crash landing, which required major repairs.

The report also revealed that despite the plane being repaired and the engine overhauled, it only flew 10 years after the crash landing and there has been no further engine overhaul since its last overhaul. in May 2010.

The manufacturer recommended that there be an engine overhaul every five years or 300 hours of operation, the report said.

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