Probe Doesn't Include Statements From Other Passengers On
The Federal Aviation Administration
has cleared US Airways of wrongdoing in an investigation of whether
the carrier served alcohol to an already-intoxicated passenger,
which resulted in his death as well as the deaths as a family of
Dana Papst was on a US Airways flight to Albuquerque, NM in
November 2006, and was served alcohol. After disembarking, Papst
got into his vehicle, turned the wrong way on Interstate 25 near
Santa Fe and struck a vehicle three hours later -- killing himself
and five members of a New Mexico family in a head-on collision. His
blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit, as ANN reported.
Police said Papst also bought beer at a Bernalillo, NM
convenience store after the flight.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the FAA investigation
included statements from carrier employees, all of whom said they
did not see any indication of intoxication in Papst, but didn't
include any interviews or statements from other passengers on that
flight, who have said Papst appeared to be intoxicated.
FAA spokesman Roland Herwig told the Associated Press says there
would be no official comment available until Monday.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson criticized the FAA, saying
the agency should have conducted a more thorough investigation and
says the outcome is not surprising given no passenger testimony was
taken into consideration.
"This tragic incident is an example of why states must be more
involved in regulating the serving of alcohol on airlines that fly
into our state and have a direct impact on the public safety of New
Mexico citizens," he said.
Following the crash, department officials reviewed airline
liquor licenses, discovering US Airways was among several airlines
that lacked state licenses, as ANN reported.
State officials cited US Airways in January in connection with
the Papst accident, and prohibited the airline from serving liquor
on New Mexico flights until the airline received a state liquor
license and granted the carrier a 90-day temporary license.
One day before the temporary license was set to expire, state
officials refused to grant an extension.
"US Airways has done little,
if anything, to consider implementing the state's required alcohol
server training to identify alcohol impaired or intoxicated
passengers," the state Regulation and Licensing Department said in
denying the extension.
US Airways Vice President Michael Minerva responded saying the
company hadn't yet had a chance to incorporate any of the state's
materials because the airline trains new flight attendants in
September; there hasn't been a new class since the Papst crash.
But, the company is considering the state's training program.
According to the AP, Papst had five DWI arrests prior to the