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Premier League footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot may have been exposed to carbon monoxide before fatal plane crash

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THE pilot who was flying Premier League footballer Emiliano Sala could have been overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning shortly before his aircraft crashed into the sea near Alderney, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch has revealed.

A tribute at Cardiff City Stadium for Emiliano Sala (Aaron Chown/PA) (25509145)

Following the incident, which happened in January, toxicology tests on the Argentinian striker revealed that he had a carboxyhaemoglobin [COHb] level of 58% in his blood. COHb is the product of carbon monoxide mixed with haemoglobin – the oxygen-carrying protein molecule contained in red blood cells.

A COHb level of 50% or above in an otherwise healthy individual is generally considered to be potentially fatal with seizures, unconsciousness and heart attacks possible.

The body of pilot David Ibbotson is still missing.

The crash sparked one of the largest search and rescue operations ever launched in the Channel Islands, with efforts spanning over three days.

A number of lifeboats, helicopters and search planes from France, Alderney, Guernsey and the UK were all involved.

However, the plane and Mr Sala's body was eventually found during a private search led by shipwreck hunter David Mearns days after the official unsuccessful operation finished.

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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