Medical Examiner Reveals New Details About Plane Crash

Medical Examiner Reveals New Details About Plane Crash

New details have come to light regarding the terrifying plane crash in Scottsdale that claimed six lives earlier this year.

28-year-old James Pedroza was a student pilot sitting in the front of the private plane that went down on April 9 in TPC Scottsdale Champions Golf Course not long after takeoff.

Now, the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office has revealed that Pedroza had cocaine in his system when he died, although it is not clear whether he or certified pilot Erik Valente, 26, was in control of the aircraft at the time of the crash. Valente was also sitting in the front of the plane.

Both men perished, along with 23-year-olds Iris Rodriguez Garcia and Mariah Sunshine Coogan, 26-year-old Anand Patel and 22-year-old Helena Lagos. The plane was bound for Las Vegas.

Online records are available on the medical examiner’s website, and records show that all but one of the passengers sustained blunt force injuries and burns.

Prior to the crash, Pedroza checked in with air traffic control and did not report any mechanical issues with the plane.

For more information, please visit the official website of the Maricopa County Medical Examiner here.


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I am a multimedia journalist and proud graduate from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication. I am originally from Minnesota, and I love learning about my second home, Arizona, and all of it's awesome communities through my contributions to My Local News! When I was a little girl, I created my own "newspaper" for my neighborhood and spent all my time writing, printing and sending each edition to my loyal subscribers (AKA my family and neighbors!). Now, it's a dream come true to be able to write everyday and have a positive impact on communities through my reporting. In my free time, I love to travel, hike, cook and spend time with my family and friends.

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