Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala had been exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide before he died in a plane crash over the English Channel, according to a report by the British Air Accidents Investigation Branch published on Wednesday.
“Toxicology tests found that the passenger (Sala) had a high saturation level of COHb (the combination product of carbon monoxide and haemoglobin),” AAIB said.
The update also suggested that pilot David Ibbotson inhaled high volumes of the toxic gas as well, even though this cannot be verified as his body has not been found.
AAIB said the "Special Bulletin" about the air accident that took place on Jan. 21 highlighted “the danger of exposure to carbon monoxide in both piston and turbine engine aircraft.”
Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic colorless, odorless and tasteless flammable gas that is less dense than air. Inhaling a lot of it can lead to a heart attack or becoming unconscious.
The British investigative body explained that a final report would be available when "our investigation has concluded."
Sala was on board a single-engine Piper Malibu light aircraft flying over the English Channel to complete his move from France’s FC Nantes to Wales’ Cardiff City when the plane disappeared off the radar over the island of Guernsey.
The late 28-year-old striker and 59-year-old pilot were the only people on board the Piper Malibu, which crashed and sank.
The authorities of the self-governing British Crown dependency island suspended the search operation three days after the accident, considering the possibilities of finding survivors low.
Sala’s family launched a privately-funded search operation in which a number of public figures participated.
On Feb. 3, the underwater wreckage of the aircraft was located at a depth of 68 m, while the player’s body was recovered and identified four days later.
Sala’s body then was repatriated to his hometown of Progreso, Argentina, before it was cremated on Feb. 16. EFE-EPA