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Medical examiners unable to find cause for Oklahoma State University plane crash

Pilot Olin Branstetter's body was in poor condition following a November plane crash that killed him, his wife and two Oklahoma State University coaches, meaning medical examiners were unable to shed any light on whether he experienced a heart attack or a stroke before the crash.
BY SILAS ALLEN sallen@opubco.com Published: February 23, 2012
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Branstetter's autopsy report lists his cause of death as multiple blunt force injuries. A Federal Aviation Administration toxicology report shows no drugs or ethanol were detected in Branstetter's muscle tissue.

Records show investigators didn't perform tests for cyanide or carbon monoxide poisoning. National Transportation Safety Board inspectors said it was impossible to perform those tests with the amount of tissue available.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Jason Aguilera said officials have found no evidence Branstetter was affected by carbon monoxide poisoning, which can occur in some airplanes when exhaust fumes get into the cockpit from the plane's cabin heat system.

However, investigators found no problems with the plane's cabin heat system, Aguilera said, making it unlikely that exhaust fumes could have entered the cabin.

NTSB inspectors have said they have ruled out weather as a factor and have also said there's no indication the plane ran out of fuel before the crash. Inspectors have said it could be up to a year before a final NTSB report, including a cause of the crash, is available.

Branstetter, a former state senator, was an accomplished pilot and a licensed flight instructor.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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