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Crash-Prone Pilot Was Intoxicated

A pilot who walked away from a helicopter crash and later slammed his plane into a cyprus swamp was intoxicated at the time of his death, officials said Monday.

The Hillsborough County coroner's office said Michael Antinori's blood alcohol level was .14, more than three times the limit considered safe for flying. The Federal Aviation Administration bans pilots from flying if they have a blood alcohol level of .04 percent.

Antinori, 30, was killed June 4 when his single-engine Cessna nose-dived about 20 miles north of Tampa. Hours earlier, he was released from a hospital after he crashed his helicopter into a house. No one else was injured in either accident.

A Tampa police report indicated Monday that alcohol may have also been a factor in the June 3 helicopter crash. A man who pulled Antinori from the wreckage told police he smelled alcohol on the pilot's breath.

The National Transportation and Safety Board investigator handling the crashes was not available for comment Monday.

Antinori's family have said they suspect mechanical failures were to blame and do not believe their son committed suicide. An Antinori family spokesman refused comment Monday.

A preliminary NTSB investigation released last week did not find any mechanical problems with the aircraft. Additional testing was underway.

Antinori refused a blood alcohol test when he was taken to the hospital after the first crash.

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