Balloon pilot in deadly NZ crash had cannabis in his system


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And they say weed is a harmless drug...

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Lance Hopping is an interesting name for a balloonist.

Should have the same discipline as a bus driver or airline pilot.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

" And they say weed is a harmless drug..."

Operating any vehicle under the influence of any mind-affective substance is at minimum ill-advised, whether the substance be alcohol, painkiller, pseudoephedrine, or a plethora of others including cannabis. Instead of blaming the substance, focus your displeasure on the individual responsible.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

It doesn't effect reaction times or cognitive ability like alcohol

Sorry, but this is untrue. The effects are nt identical, but close enough to cause impairment. In America quite a large number of car accidents involve drivers who have been smoking pot. "Driving under the influence" includes driving after having taken or used any number of drugs or medications, including marijuana.

I was formerly a traffic accident investigator, and I have written reports on thousands of accidents, many of which involved marijuana use, several of which were fatal.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

That may well be true, but you of all people should know that any investigation should not immediately jump to conclusions. He could have smoked the weed days ago, if not weeks and we don't know how much he had in his system, it could have been minuscule. It's poor reporting to simply say he had cannabis in his system because it invites false accusations and conclusions - as has happened on this board.

If you read the article, it states that witnesses testified that they saw Mr Hopping smoking marijuana the morning of the accident. It also states that there was no evidence of tobacco or nicotine in Mr Hopping's system, so he wasn't smoking cigarettes.

It is quite easy to tell by a simple blood test how much marijuana was used, and when it was used. Like all substances (including alcohol) THC is metabolized fairly consistently, allowing for a reasonably accurate estimation of amount how much and when.

I had to tesify in a case where a man ran a red light and crashed into a car, killing the four occupants, three of whom were young children. I was the investigtor who wrote the report and took the photographs. The accused had been driving under the influence of marijuana. The expert for the prosecution was able to estimate when the accused had smoked marijuana, and testified as to how much, quoting published guidelines. No doubt the police in New Zealand have a similar system.

Pot isn't completely harmless, thousands have been killed by drivers who have been smoking marijuana.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Cannabis traces stay in the system for weeks or months. Even if he'd had a joint the night before he was likely unaffected by it on the day of the crash.

But in Japan it's oooohhh, marijuana....baaaaad. Knee jerk reactions won't answer the questions of what happened there.

Now if he was smoking on the day and was still high when he went up, that has more to do with his own bad habits, poor oversight of the tour operators, than the general evils of the drug. After all he could just as well have been drinking beer on the morning of the crash.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

" two witnesses saw Hopping smoking a substance on the morning of the accident and forensic tests showed no indication he had inhaled tobacco."

Which could also have been clove.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"He said it appeared “highly likely” that Hopping, 53, smoked cannabis before the flight."

So in other words the title should read "POSSIBLY had Cannabis in his system". So far I'm not really reading about any proof.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

The headline is correct. There is no "possibly" about it. The cannabis was in the pilot's system. The issue is when he ingested it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Which could also have been clove.

Clove is as easy to detect as any other substance. Had he been smoking clove, they would have known it. But you and I both know how unlikely it was that he was smoking clove at the time.

poor oversight of the tour operators,

Amazing, but not surprising that the blame is shifted from the person who commiited the act to someone else. Had the substance invovled been alcohol, he would be getting no sympathy here at all. I suppose if the tour operators were also smoking pot, then the blame would be shifted to somewhere else, like to the owner of the field from which the balloon was launched.

It has been nearly two years since the incident, the only mitigating factor found in the entire investigation was marijuana in the pilot's system. No alcohol, no tobacco (probably no clove), no equipment problems, no bad weather conditions.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Drivers, pilots and any other people whose work sees people put their safety in their hands should not be under the influence of pot, alcohol or any other drug. Anyone who believes that you are as sharp and alert when stoned clearly has never been stoned.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

" But you and I both know how unlikely it was that he was smoking clove at the time."

As I often see/smell people smoking clove cigarettes, I agree.

"two witnesses saw Hopping smoking a substance on the morning of the accident…"

Yes, it could have been a substance.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What an idiot, go get high and now all these people are dead!! RIP poor Kiwis

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If the substance was "in his system" then he was "under it's influence" no matter the degree of that influence...

I was young once too and could share a few stories... but anyone who would suggest that although it was "just" in his system or he had "just" smoked it 12-24 hours previously that this had no effect are guilty of exercising almost as poor a level of responsibility and judgement as the pilot of this craft did...

Would love it to see how these protagonists would react if they boarded a flight overseas and the pilot came over the loudspeaker and said "Hey dudes... this is Stu your captain speaking - I was smoking a little herb last night at a party at the airport hotel but don't worry yourselves none - it was at least 12 hours ago and I am feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed so just sit back, relax and leave the flying to us..."

Tell me you wouldn't feel that your safety was in question...

Now tell me what you would do & how you would feel if you got in a hot air balloon in NZ or elsewhere in the world and the guy doing the flying said the same thing ? ? ?

The point here is that it is highly unlikely that any of the 10 dead customers were afforded that option and THAT is whats FU'd about this story...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Dope and operating any miving vehicle is a no no!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

He was flying a balloon and he was high?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Now cross reference this with the "Should they legalise marijuana" thread...

RIP poor people who died thanks to this selfish idiot.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Whatever his condition was, the fact that he may have been under the influence of cabanas according to investigators, it will not bring back those lives caused by his bad judgment .

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The crash was caused by pilot error. The presence of THC in his bloodstream MAY have contributed to the error. That's the only facts gleaned from this article.

That said, I have never known any of my acquaintances who were "high" to have been able to make any sort of quick decisions... with the exception being when the decision involved which supermarket would have their cookie aisle raided. Operating a vehicle of ANY kind while high is asking for trouble. In this case it may have caused the deaths of 10 other people besides the pilot.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

" The crash was caused by pilot error. The presence of THC in his bloodstream MAY have contributed to the error. That's the only facts gleaned from this article."

Fact. And it's inconclusive at best. Pilots make errors, sober as well.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

So all you folks who feel the marijuana had nothing to do with it would not hesitate to get on a commercial plane piloted by some guy who was smoking and wreaking with blood shot eyes and munching on the inflight snacks?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Marijuana destroys lives and tears families apart. I've seen it happen.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Toxicology results found he had 2 micrograms of cannabis per litre of blood, which was consistent with smoking cannabis 4-6 hours prior. NZ Herald/Official report

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I'll have to agree with Jean's very first post. People who are operating any type of vehicle, or machinery should not be under the influence of anything. It's pure and simple logic. Even I know better than to take a dose of Nyquil (night time) and then going outside for anything.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am all for the legalization of marijuana. That does not mean I think that a pilot of any sort, with people's lives in his hands, should be flying while stoned. For that matter, he should not be flying while sleepy, drunk, sick, injured or angry either.

Marijuana is still just fine at the right time and place. This was not it. Get stoned at parties or in you own home with my blessing. Fly a flying craft with passengers and will beg for the honor or escorting you to a jail cell myself...assuming you live that long.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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