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Investigators: Carbon monoxide likely seeped from hole in muffler

January 21, 1997

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ A mother and son who died in the crash of their small plane had passed out from carbon monoxide fumes that probably seeped into the cockpit from a hole in the muffler, investigators said Tuesday.

Pilot David Riach, 46, and his mother, Dorothy Riach, 71, were deeply comatose, but alive, as their single-engine plane soared over three states last Friday, said James Kaplan, acting state medical examiner.

The plane eventually ran out of gas and crashed near the southern New Hampshire town of Alton. The muffler found in the wreckage had a triangular, ``corrosion-type″ hole, about 3 1/2 inches on its longest side, said Beverley Drake-Nurse, an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Piper Cherokee’s heating system pulls cold air in, passes it over the hot muffler, then moves the warmed air into the cabin.

The investigator said the board will draw no conclusions until the probe is complete.

The Riachs, with the son at the controls, were flying from Farmingdale on New York’s Long Island to a vacation cabin in Saranac, N.Y. About 25 minutes into the flight, Mrs. Riach told controllers her son had passed out.

Mrs. Riach, also a pilot, later was overcome and the plane, apparently on autopilot, strayed north and crashed.

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