The autopsy for former MLB pitcher Roy Halladay revealed that he died from blunt force trauma with drowning as a contributing factor. That was to be expected following Halladay's plane crash that took his life on November 7, 2017.
What wasn't expected was what the autopsy also revealed, and that is that Halladay had multiple drugs in his system at the time of the crash. The Tampa Bay Times received a copy of the autopsy and it revealed that he had amphetamines, morphine and the sleep aid zolpidem in his system.
Dr. Bruce Goldberger, a pathologist and director of the University of Florida Health Forensic Medicine Center, says the drugs could have played a role in Halladay's ability to function while flying his single-person plane.
"The drugs are particularly important in the assessment of the impairment of Mr. Halladay while operating the plane," Goldberger said. "The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) will take this evidence under consideration during their investigation of this accident."
Goldberger made it clear that the presence of the drugs doesn't necessarily mean that Halladay was impaired and that determination will be made by the NTSB.
"At this point you can’t assess impairment solely based on the drug concentrations," Goldberger said. "You have to wait for the NTSB to weigh in on their investigation. They’ll likely be able to assess the role of the drugs in the accident."
Amphetamines are a stimulant that was regularly taken by MLB players in the 1960s and 1970s, but is now banned by the league. Morphine is an opiate that is primarily used to treat pain and zolpidem is a sedative used as a sleep aid. It is not known if Halladay had a prescription for any of the drugs.
Federal investigators will look at all of the factors which led to the crash including Halladay's autopsy, his experience flying and the condition of the aircraft itself.
Halladay crashed the plane in the Gulf of Mexico and just off the western coast of Florida, near the Tampa area. Video later emerged which appeared to show Halladay performing various stunts including him swooping dangerously close to the water.
An eight-time All-Star, Halladay played 12 seasons with the Blue Jays and four seasons with the Phillies. He won two Cy Young awards and threw the second no-hitter in postseason history in 2010. He will be eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.
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