Volume 49, Issue 4 (July 2004)
Distribution and Optical Purity of Methamphetamine Found in Toxic Concentration in a Civil Aviation Accident Pilot Fatality
Toxicological evaluation of postmortem samples collected from a pilot involved in a unique fatal civil aircraft accident is described in this paper. A one-occupant airplane was substantially damaged upon colliding with terrain in poor visibility. Remains of the pilot were found outside the aircraft. Pathological examination revealed multiple blunt force injuries and vascular congestion. The fluorescence polarization immunoassay disclosed 8.0 µg/mL amphetamines in urine. Gas chromatographic/mass spectrometric analyses determined the presence of methamphetamine (1.13 µg/mLin blood and 59.2 µg/mL in urine) and amphetamine (0.022 µg/mLin blood and 1.50 µg/mL in urine). Methamphetamine was distributed throughout the body, including the brain. The amount of methamphetamine in gastric contents was 575-fold higher than that of amphetamine. The (+)- and (-)-forms of methamphetamine were present in equal proportions in gastric contents. The methamphetamine concentration found in blood was in the range sufficient to produce toxic effects, causing performance impairment.