PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The National Transportation Safety Board says witnesses saw Roy Halladay flying his plane in low altitude prior to the crash that claimed the life of the former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher.
Halladay, 40, crashed his ICON A5 plane in the Gulf of Mexico shortly after noon on Tuesday.
Noreen Price, the accident investigator for the NTSB, says Halladay’s plane was found inverted in four feet of water.
“It looked like a high-energy impact. All the pieces were there. Most everything was attached,” said Price, adding that witnesses have said that Halladay’s plane was flying at a low altitude.
New video of Halladay flying shows him low over the water and eyewitnesses say the plane was making extreme and unusual changes in altitude.
However, outside of a steep turn, aviation experts say they don’t see any glaringly obvious reasons for the crash.
“Nothing in this video tells me that there was one, any mechanical malfunction, and two, it doesn’t tell me whether or not the pilot was doing something that he shouldn’t be doing,” said Arthur Wolk, an aviation attorney and jet pilot with more than 45 years of flying experience.
Investigators have recovered two data recorders from the plane.
Price said Halladay had amassed 700 flight hours since getting his pilot’s license in 2013. Halladay took off from Odessa, Florida, prior to the accident.
The NTSB has recovered the plane wreckage and are developing a timeline of the accident.
A preliminary report will be published within seven to ten days, but the full investigation will take one to two years.
Halladay had owned his light sport aircraft for less than a month and was among the first to fly it with only about 20 in existence, according to ICON Aviation. Water landings are common for this type of aircraft.
The ICON A5 is a new design and it has been involved in several crashes since its rollout in 2014.
On May 8, two ICON employees, the company’s lead test pilot and the director of engineering, were killed in a crash in Napa County, California.
The NTSB blamed pilot error for that crash.
Halladay, who retired from baseball in 2013, is survived by his two sons, Ryan and Braden, and his wife, Brandy.