The National Transportation Safety Board has released troubling new information detailing the death of former Blue Jays and Phillies great Roy Halladay. The All-Star right-hander was killed on November 7, 2017 after crashing his plane in the Gulf of Mexico not far from Tampa. Toxicology results released months later showed the 40-year-old Halladay died with drugs in his system including high amounts of morphine and amphetamine.
Wednesday’s report revealed that Halladay flew recklessly before his crash, performing high-difficulty stunts at dangerously low altitudes with some maneuvers occurring just five feet above water. On the climb that ultimately killed him, Halladay’s plane slowed to 85 mph before nosediving into the gulf. Blunt force trauma and drowning were determined as the causes of death. Just weeks before the crash that took his life, Halladay flew his plane under the Skyway Bridge—a well-known Tampa landmark—in clear violation of the bridge’s 180-foot vertical clearance.
Brandy Halladay, Roy's wife, released an emotional statement through the Phillies.
"Yesterday's NTSB report on Roy's accident was painful for our family, as it has caused us to relive the worst day of our lives," the statement said. "It has reinforced what I have previously stated, that no one is perfect. Most families struggle in some capacity and ours was no exception. We respectfully ask that you not make assumptions or pass judgment. Rather, we encourage you to hug your loved ones and appreciate having them in your lives. As a family, we ask that you allow Roy to rest in peace."
Halladay was an experienced pilot with over 700 flight hours, though the 16-year big-league vet was still relatively new to the Icon A-5, the aircraft he crashed in (14 hours). According to the NTSB’s latest findings, Halladay tested for an amphetamine level 10 times higher than therapeutic levels, significantly impairing his judgment. Per his doctor, Halladay struggled with substance abuse in the years leading up to his death, enduring rehab stints in both 2013 and 2015 for opioid and benzodiazepine misuse. Mike Sisac of the Associated Press also notes Halladay suffered from chronic back pain, insomnia and depression following his retirement from MLB in 2013.
The NTSB will release its full report on Halladay’s fatal crash in the coming weeks. An eight-time All-Star whose career highlights included a perfect game and only the second no-hitter in postseason history, Halladay was posthumously inducted as a first-ballot Baseball Hall-of-Famer, easily obtaining the 75 percent of votes necessary for enshrinement. He joined Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina in Cooperstown’s class of 2019.