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    Aaliyah Pilot on Drugs, Booze

    The pilot behind the controls of the doomed flight that claimed the life of Aaliyah had cocaine and alcohol in his system at the time of the crash.

    In a statement issued Tuesday, the Bahamas Department of Civil Aviation announced that an autopsy and subsequent toxicology tests on the body of Luis Antonio Morales III turned up cocaine in his urine and alcohol in his stomach.

    Morales, 30, was killed with the 22-year-old Aaliyah and seven others when their twin-engine Cessna went down shortly after takeoff last August. The entourage had been in the Bahamas to shoot the video for "Rock the Boat" and was returning to Florida.

    Investigators have long been unsettled by Morales' role in the crash. Not only was the pilot not authorized to fly the Cessna, but just 12 days before the crash, he was in a Florida courtroom pleading no contest to possessing crack cocaine, trafficking stolen airplane parts, theft and driving with a suspended license and was sentenced to three years' probation.

    Although aviation authorities are still trying to assess the extent to which the substances affected Morales' flight skills, the presence of cocaine and booze in his system is yet another troubling element on a growing list.

    Tuesday's statement also suggested the Cessna 402B may not have had required maintenance on its fuel pump (the department says there were "indications that routine maintenance was not being performed"). The airplane's owner, Gilbert Chacon, has stymied investigators in both the Bahamas and United States, refusing to turn over key documents, including the plane's maintenance records.

    Federal authorities have already launched a criminal probe into Chacon's Blackhawk International Airways, which wasn't licensed to fly charter planes in the Bahamas. The company has been shuttered since the August 25 crash.

    And, as noted in a preliminary accident investigation report last fall, the Cessna was at least 700 pounds overweight when it lifted off from Marsh Harbour Airport on Abaco Island.

    Authorities still seem to believe that the extra load, combined with Morales' inexperience operating such a plane, was the primary cause for the fatal plunge--especially since investigators found no sign of any malfunctioning equipment after combing through the wreckage.

    Aside from any criminal charges that may eventually be brought against Blackhawk, there are several civil lawsuits winding their way through the courts. Aaliyah's parents filed suit in May against the entertainer's label, Virgin Records, several video production companies and Blackhawk saying their negligence and recklessness triggered the crash.

    At least four similar suits have been filed by other victims' families.

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