Emiliano Sala suffered carbon monoxide poisoning before dying in plane crash
An inquest heard that blood tests conducted from Emiliano Sala‘s body revealed he had been overpowered by deadly amounts of carbon monoxide poisoning prior to his death in a plane crash.
In January 2019, the Argentina striker died when the private plane he was traveling in crashed into the English Channel off the coast of Alderney. He was on his way to join Cardiff City in the English Premier League for £15 million after leaving French Ligue 1 team Nantes.
Aboard the evening of January 21, 2019, the 28-year-old was on a private jet traveling between Nantes and Cardiff when it crashed in the English Channel near Guernsey, according to Dorset Coroner’s Court.
Pilot David Ibbotson, 59, was also killed in the incident, although his corpse has never been located.
The inquest began on Tuesday after being delayed for legal reasons a week earlier.
Sala died from serious head and chest injuries consistent with a plane crash, according to pathologist Dr. Basil Purdue.
However, he had been overpowered by carbon monoxide poisoning previous to his death and would have been “completely unconscious” at the time of impact with the sea, according to Dr Purdue.
He said that toxicological testing on Sala’s blood revealed a carbon monoxide blood saturation level of 58 percent, describing it as “serious poisoning,” and that the source was the plane’s exhaust system.
Dr. Purdue continued his testimony by stating that two blood samples were collected from Sala, one from the iliofemoral vein and the other from the thoracic cavity.
The first blood sample was submitted to be tested for carbon monoxide, while the second was used to confirm identity via DNA testing. After that, the second sample was transferred to Canada for further analysis.
Due to decomposition, Dr. Purdue was only able to retrieve one blood sample from the iliofemoral vein and blood for DNA testing from the cavity.
He said that cavity blood was frequently polluted and of “uncertain composition,” and that it could not be used for toxicological testing but could be used for DNA testing.
“It’s not blood; it’s blood mixed with an unknown number of other substances — you’ll be mislead,” he claimed.
When Dr. Purdue performed the post-mortem examination on Mr. Sala’s body on February 7, he said it was in the process of decomposition.
“I would have taken more samples if we had more blood.” “The fact that we only had one bottle reflects the best we could acquire,” he explained.
The cavity blood sample was kept in a Dorset Police freezer until it was transported to Canada for testing, according to forensic examiner Katherine Baldwin. She also verified that, despite being part of an ongoing investigation, the initial sample had been destroyed by a forensic lab after being tested.
Sala smoked between one and five cigarettes a day, according to the hearing, and four packets of cigarettes were discovered in his South Wales hotel room after his death.
“Mr. Sala had some items in the room, and there was a request from Mr. Sala’s agent regarding the cigarettes in his room, and he was keen for that not to be disclosed to his family because he had not told them he smoked,” said Detective Sergeant Sarah Gedge of Dorset Police.
The cigarettes, she claimed, were discovered in a Christian Louboutin canvas shoe bag.
“We spoke with (Sala’s agent) Meissa N’diaye today to confirm Mr Sala’s smoking habits, and he was able to inform us that Mr Sala smoked between one and five cigarettes each day,” she said.
“He’d been smoking for a few years and loved the Lucky Strike Lights brand.
“He said that he didn’t have any actual knowledge and that he had spoken to someone else.”
Sala had completed a medical questionnaire as part of his transfer to Cardiff City, in which he declared that he did not smoke, according to the officer.
The Piper Malibu plane took off from Nantes airport at 7.15 p.m. on January 21 for a journey to Cardiff, but radar contact was lost at 8.15 p.m. near Guernsey, according to the inquest.
On February 3, the plane was discovered on the bottom, and Sala’s body was discovered three days later in the wreckage.
The inquest, which is taking place at Bournemouth Town Hall, is expected to take about a month.