Example #6 –December 29, 2000
Off Shore Oil – 1 fatality
An off-shore helicopter with the pilot as the sole-occupant crashed into the Gulf of Mexico without any apparent cause. The impact analysis indicated a complete loss of control and there was no evidence of any mechanical failures prior to impact with the water. Autopsy shows significant arterial blockages consistent with possible sudden death or incapacitation.
Land and LIVE Factors:
Possible pilot incapacitation
Health and fitness of duty are not mysterious and rarely do people suffer sudden death without knowing of significant risk factors. Sudden death itself generally follows at least one hour of symptoms.
Signs and symptoms
The cardinal symptom of decreased blood flow to the heart is chest pain, experienced as tightness around the chest and radiating to the left arm and the left angle of the jaw. This may be associated with diaphoresis (sweating), unrelenting “heartburn", nausea and vomiting, as well as shortness of breath. In many cases, the sensation is "atypical", with pain experienced in different ways or even being completely absent (which is more likely in female patients and those with diabetes). Some may report palpitations, anxiety or a sense of impending doom (angor animi) and a feeling of being acutely ill.
Read the NTSB probable cause narrative: FTW01FA043