Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

April 9, 2008

NTSB: Pilot’s personal issues affected judgement

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearing looking into the Cosco Busan oil spill, shed more light on the personal problems of the pilot captain that may have contributed to the disaster on San Francisco Bay.

The NTSB revealed that Capt. John Cota is an alcoholic who also was using prescription drugs during work hours to treat depression and sleep apnea.

“I wouldn’t want anyone taking those medicines and having to make decisions in a safety-sensitive position,” Dr. Robert Bourgeois told an NTSB panel on Wednesday.

With Cota piloting the 900-foot Cosco Busan, the ship struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in heavy fog on November 7, 2007. It spilled toxic fuel oil into the bay that fouled the bay and killed at least 2,500 birds.

Cota through his attorney is refusing to testify at the panel’s hearing in Washington, DC this week. He is citing his 5th amendment right against self incrimination.

Read the San Francisco Chronicle story

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