Total CEO plane crash plow driver drank liquor-laced coffee - reports

Total CEO plane crash plow driver drank liquor-laced coffee - reports
The driver of a snowplow which collided with a plane, killing Total’s CEO, had reportedly drunk booze-laced coffee, Russian media said. During interrogation he confessed he didn’t notice entering the runway and didn’t see or hear the plane taking off.

Total CEO crash: Investigators say snowplow driver ‘drunk’, lawyer rejects claim

“When I lost the mark, I didn’t notice that I entered the runway... The plane was taking off. I almost didn’t see or hear it because the devices were working and there were no lights… So there was a crash,” snowplow driver Vladimir Martynenkov allegedly said during an interrogation.

According to Interfax sources, the driver might have consumed coffee with liquor before taking the wheel of the snowplow.

A source in law-enforcement agencies told LifeNews that Martynenkov confessed to the investigators that he had drunk cognac which he was carrying in a thermos. The source added that the investigation showed the driver had a 0.06 percent blood alcohol level (which corresponds to 100 grams of vodka).

However, after consulting his lawyer Martynenkov retracted his initial statement.

At the beginning of plane crash probe spokesman of Russia’s Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin told the reporters that “the driver of the snowplow was under the influence of alcohol.”

Martynenkov’s lawyer Aleksandr Karabanov denies that that was the case. He told reporters that his client "is suffering from an acute heart condition; he does not drink at all and his relatives and friends can testify to that." Karabanov also said he will insist on an independent alcohol test.

The driver asked for medicine due to a heart condition, Karabanov wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

“The suspect is experiencing emotional shock and complains of heart pain due to his chronic disease,” he added.

First video: Total CEO’s Falcon 50 plane crash site in Vnukovo Airport

Intern in control?

Martynenkov was following the instructions of an air-traffic controller, said Karabanov, adding that along with the snowplow machine there was a column of five or six other trucks.

“Maybe the controller didn’t notice that the column was leaving and that one car was following it,” he added.

The wreckage of what is believed to be Christophe de Margerie's Dassault Falcon jet is seen at Moscow's Vnukovo airport, October 21, 2014. (Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev)

More details as to who the air-traffic controllers were on the night of plane crash emerged in Russian media.

A female intern, whose name hasn’t been yet revealed to the press, was on duty. However, she was supervised by an experienced controller, Aleksandr Kruglov.

Investigators plan to test all air-traffic controllers in the airport for alcohol and drugs.

The main theories as to the cause of the plane crash are a mistake by air-traffic control, the actions of the snowplow driver, bad weather conditions and the possibility of pilot error.

In the meantime, specialists have proceeded to analyze the black boxes from the Falcon plane, Deputy Chairman from Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) Sergey Zayko said.

“We are currently working with our French colleagues to determine the cause of the plane crash. The flight recorders from the board of Falcon have been removed,” he said.

‘Shock & sadness’: Total CEO dies in Moscow plane crash

According to Zayko, the specialists will soon receive recordings with conversations of members of the crew and their voice identifications.

It may take two or three days to decode the flight recorders, according to the IAC.

“The reason of the investigation carried by IAC is not to establish someone’s fault … but to establish the cause of the plane crash objectively and to work out recommendations aiming to prevent such accidents in the future,” he said.

The business jet, carrying the CEO of French oil and gas giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, collided with a snowplow truck at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport during takeoff early Tuesday morning. De Margerie was the only passenger on the jet, while three crewmembers who were also French citizens perished as well.