Pilot in Dallas Crash Reportedly Used Sedatives

Associated Press

The captain of a jet that crashed in a thunderstorm in 1985, killing 137 people at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, had prescriptions for a tranquilizer filled several times in the months before the crash, a newspaper reported.

There was no indication that Edward M. Connors, who died in the crash of Delta Flight 191, was under the influence of the tranquilizer at the time of the accident, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said Saturday.

The New York-based Journal of Commerce, which said it will carry a similar report in its Monday editions, said information about Connors' prescription drug use was revealed in depositions taken for a lawsuit against Delta by about 50 survivors of some of the 137 killed in the Aug. 2, 1985, crash.

Poor Judgment Charged

Plaintiffs' attorney Windle Turley said the prescriptions support the plaintiffs' contentions that Connors used bad judgment in allowing the plane to be flown into a thunderstorm during the landing approach.

Henry Conley, marketing director for Delta's Dallas-Fort Worth district, disagreed. "This is just another desperate attempt by plaintiffs' attorneys to use the news media to play up the publicity on (Flight) 191," he said.

A case to determine liability in the crash is scheduled for trial Jan. 11 in Fort Worth.

Connors, 57, was not piloting the plane at the time of the crash, but he was the final authority aboard, the Star-Telegram said.

Many Seriously Injured

Two other pilots in the cockpit of the Lockheed L-1011 were killed when the plane hit a water tower while attempting to land during a thunderstorm. Many of the 27 passengers and flight attendants who survived were seriously injured.

Records from a Fort Worth pharmacy show Connors had prescriptions for Stelazine filled or refilled 13 times between September, 1982, and June 24, 1985, the newspaper said. Connors never indicated in records of regular physical examinations that he was taking the drug.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said use of the tranquilizer would have disqualified a pilot from flying.

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