Emiliano Sala and pilot were exposed to carbon monoxide before fatal crash

Argentic soccer player Emiliano Sala
Nantes’ Emiliano Sala, at a Jan. 8 match, was killed in a plane crash as he was flying to Wales to join Premier League club Cardiff.
(Loic Venance / AFP / Getty Images)

British investigators say Emiliano Sala and his pilot were exposed to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide before the small plane carrying the Argentine soccer player crashed in the English Channel, killing them both.

A single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson crashed in the Channel on Jan. 21. Sala was traveling from France to join his new team, the Premier League’s Cardiff City in Wales.

His body was recovered from the wreckage two weeks later. Ibbotson’s body has not been found.


The U.K.’s Air Accident Investigations Branch said Wednesday that toxicology tests found “a high saturation level of COHb (the combination product of carbon monoxide and hemoglobin)” in Sala’s blood.

It said the level was 58%, above the 50% level “generally considered to be potentially fatal” in a healthy individual.