Plane crash pilot pleads not guilty

Print Article

SANDPOINT — A Utah man accused of crashing a plane at Sandpoint while under the influence of prescription medication is maintaining his innocence.

Counsel for Donald Moss Muirhead filed a written plea of not guilty in Bonner County Magistrate Court, court records show.

Muirhead, 55, of Orem, is charged with operating an aircraft while under the influence of drugs, a misdemeanor. Hearings dates in the case are pending.

The charge arose from a crash at Sandpoint Airport that occurred shortly before 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 23.

Muirhead was at the controls of a Piper Aerostar 620P when he careened 600 feet off the north end of the runway and crashed into an antenna array that serves a distance-measuring system that helps pilots make instrument landings.

Muirhead and two passengers, 64- and 39-year-old residents of Lehi, Utah, escaped the crash without injury, according to Sandpoint Police reports.

Muirhead blamed the crash on a mechanical issue.

“He said when he hit the runway, the plane did not have any brakes and he was unable to stop,” Sgt. Derrick Hagstrom said in the report.

The two passengers, however, felt that Muirhead approached the landing with too much speed and touched down too late on the runway, according to the police report and witness statements. They also suspected that prescription medication may have factored into the mishap.

The manager of the airport’s fixed-base operations, Jason Hauck, estimated the plane was traveling 110-120 knots (about 126-138 mph) during its landing. Hauck advised police that the cloud deck was high enough that Muirhead could have throttled back up, circled around and made another pass at the landing, the reports said.

Muirhead allegedly appeared lethargic and was slow in his movements and speech while speaking with investigators. Bonner County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Deal, a certified drug-recognition expert, determined Muirhead was under the influence of intoxicating substances.

Muirhead reportedly denied being under the influence, although he did admit to being prescribed antidepressants Seroquel and Lexapro, both of which he said were approved for pilot use by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Muirhead submitted a Breathalyzer sample which showed no presence of alcohol, court records indicate.

Print Article

Read More News

Perry is top Farm Bureau Insurance agent

March 23, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Idaho presented the 2016 Agent of the Year award to Sandpoint agent Kendon Perry. “We are honored to recognize Kendon Perry for his outstanding sales perform...

Comments

Read More

Kootenai Thunder to host fundraiser

March 23, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee KOOTENAI — Enjoy a spaghetti dinner while supporting local youth athletics as the Kootenai Thunder host a dinner and desert auction on April 1 at 6 p.m. in the Ponderay Event Center, 401 Bonner Mall ...

Comments

Read More

Sealed court hearing is held in rape case

March 23, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — A sealed court hearing was conducted Wednesday in the case of a Dover man accused of rape. There’s no record available to the public indicating what was discussed during the hearing in A...

Comments

Read More

Trial is ordered in teacher’s sex battery case

March 23, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — A former Lake Pend Oreille High school teacher was ordered Wednesday to stand trial for having sex with a former student. Judge Justin Julian bound Nichole Noel Thiel over to 1st Distric...

Comments

Read More