Autopsy Reveals Cause Of Death Of Co-Pilot Who Fell From Plane

Close-Up Of Airplane Wing Against Clear Blue Sky

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The death of a co-pilot who fatally fell out of an airplane in July has officially been ruled as an accident, an autopsy report obtained by NBC News on Wednesday (November 30) confirmed.

Charles Hew Crooks, 23, suffered multiple blunt force injuries during what the North Carolina Chief Medical Examiner's Office deemed as "an accidental fall" from a twin-engine CASA CN-212 Aviocar on July 29.

Crooks "had no significant natural disease" prior to his death, the report concluded.

A toxicology report also confirmed that the 23-year-old was tested for amphetamines, cocaine and opioids, which "detected no alcohols or common drugs of abuse," NBC News reports.

The twin-engine had finished dropping skydivers from a rear ramp in a small private field just before Crooks' death.

The 23-year-old and the pilot were the only two people onboard when the plane headed back to Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

The pilot notified air traffic control that the plane had experienced a landing gear problem.

The autopsy report confirmed that the twin-engine plane experienced turbulence and Crooks had told the pilot he wasn't feeling well prior to his fall.

“They were flying at approximately 3500 feet with the rear ramp open for ventilation. The aircraft encountered moderate turbulence,” the report states via NBC News. “At some point, the decedent (copilot) opened a cockpit window for ventilation and possibly to vomit. Sometime after, he told the pilot that he felt he was going to be sick and apologized. He then departed the cockpit towards the open rear ramp; at some point, the pilot realized that he had apparently fallen from the aircraft.”

Crooks, who was later found dead about 30 miles south of the airport in Fuqua-Varina, was not wearing a parachute when he jumped out of the plane, Wake County emergency management spokesperson Darshan Patel confirmed during a news conference on July 29 via NBC News.

Multiple agencies assisted in the search for Crooks before his body was located just prior to 7:00 p.m. on July 29.

A resident in Fuqua-Varina flagged down an officer and said they'd heard a noise coming from behind their home where Crooks' body was eventually located.


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