NTSB links selfies to deadly plane crash near Denver

DENVER (AP) -- Selfies were a likely factor in a small plane crash near Denver last year that killed the pilot and his only passenger, according to a new National Transportation Safety Board report.

The report, released last week, said recordings from a GoPro camera that escaped damage and had been mounted on the Cessna 150K's instrument panel show the pilot and other passengers repeatedly taking photographs of themselves with their cellphones, even using the flash, during several previous short flights in the hours leading up to the May 31 crash.

Although there was no video of the deadly flight, evidence of the pilot's previous cellphone use that day makes it likely that cellphone use contributed to his disorientation and loss of control, investigators concluded.

Eric Weiss, an NTSB spokesman, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that one of the agency's priorities this year is calling attention to the dangers of a variety of distractions, whether in the air or on the ground.

"Selfies would be by definition distraction," Weiss said, adding pilots are advised to restrict activities and conversation to the task at hand when they are at the controls.

The May crash killed pilot Amritpal Singh, 29, of Aurora and his passenger shortly after they took off from Front Range Airport in Adams County on a night flight. The wreckage was found in a wheat field about a mile west of the airport.

The Adams County coroner's office on Tuesday identified the passenger as Jatinder Singh, 31, of the Indian province of Punjab. At the time of the crash, Amritpal Singh's family had told reporters the passenger was a visiting musician.

NTSB investigators said they did not find evidence Singh had met requirements to fly at night with passengers. He did hold a commercial pilot certificate and had more than 700 hours of flying time.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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