BOURNEMOUTH, England (AP) — Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala was “deeply unconscious” after being poisoned by exhaust fumes before dying from severe head and chest injuries in a plane crash in 2019, a jury concluded Thursday.
Sala died when the single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft in which he was traveling crashed in the English Channel. He was flying to join his new team, Cardiff, in Wales after signing from French club Nantes.
The jury at an inquest at Bournemouth Town Hall found that Sala was a passenger on a private plane being flown by a pilot, David Ibbotson, who did not have the correct authority to fly at night.
The plane broke up when it crashed into the sea. Ibbotson’s body has never been found.
A pathologist, Dr. Basil Purdue, said Sala had been overcome by “severe poisoning” because of a buildup of carbon monoxide inside the cabin due to the plane’s faulty exhaust system and would have been “deeply unconscious” prior to the aircraft crashing.
Purdue said Sala was still alive at the point of impact and died from severe head and chest injuries.
Pilot and businessman David Henderson managed the aircraft on behalf of its owner and arranged flights, pilots and maintenance, despite not being the legally registered operator.
Henderson was sentenced in November to 18 months in prison, having already been found guilty by a majority verdict of endangering the safety of an aircraft. He had previously admitted to a separate offense of attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorization.
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