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Jessica Dubroff crash blamed on pilot

jessica March 4, 1997
Web posted at: 9:45 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The National Transportation Safety Board found Tuesday that the April 1996 fatal crash of a small plane carrying 7-year-old Jessica Dubroff was probably caused by the pilot's decision to take off in bad weather.

All three people in the Cessna 177B were killed just after takeoff from a small airport in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As a pilot trainee, Jessica was trying to become the youngest person to complete a transcontinental flight. Her father and her flight instructor, Joe Reid, also died in the crash.

Investigators believe that fatigue and media attention may have contributed to an "improper" decision to take off in bad weather. However, Jessica's mother, Lisa Hathaway, said Reid had excellent judgment and wouldn't have taken off under dangerous conditions. She said she felt it was more likely that a mechanical failure caused the fatal crash.

The wreck touched off a debate about whether someone so young should be attempting to set a cross-country record. But NTSB investigator Malcolm Brenner said autopsy reports suggested that at the very least, Reid was assisting the girl in the takeoff sequence and likely had control of the wheel at the time of the crash.

 
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