Roy Halladay, the 40-year-old All-Star MLB pitcher who died Tuesday his plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, was reportedly seen flying erratically just minutes before the accident.
Smartphone footage obtained by TMZ Sports shows Halladay’s plane flying from 100-feet in the air to just 5-feet over the water. The changes in altitude shocked witnesses so much that in one clip, a witness can be heard saying, “What the f—?” As the plane waves through the blue skies, another witness simply says, “That can’t be legal.”
According to Reuters, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Noreen Price said many witnesses reported the plane flying at a low altitude. It isn’t immediately clear if the maneuvers seen leading up to the crash were done purposefully or if Halladay had lost total or partial control of the plane. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said there were no distress calls received from the plane. Yet, according to TMZ, one witness said, “He was flying like that all week. Aggressively.”
The two-time Cy Young winner—who spent 16 years in the MLB, playing for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies—had only recently purchased the ICON A5 two-seater plane, which was built to be accessible for entry-level pilots. The amphibious aircraft is marketed as being a recreational vehicle that can be towed around, without owners ever having to set foot in an airport. It’s been described as a “sports car with wings,” and ICON claims an amateur could learn how to pilot the aircraft in less than 30 hours. There were only about 20 A5’s manufactured, and Halladay was given the first production model for 2018.
But Halladay’s fatal crash is now the second to occur this year involving the A5. On May 8, the airplane’s designer and test pilot, 55-year-old Jon Karkow, along with a new employee, were both killed in a crash while flying an A5 over Lake Berryessa in California. ICON suspended flight operations of the A5 fleet but continued them after the National Transportation Safety Board found the crash likely occurred due to pilot error, according to CNN.
The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into Tuesday’s crash, which could take more than a year. In a statement posted to their website, ICON said they will support the inquiry.
“We have gotten to know Roy and his family in recent months, and he was a great advocate and friend of ours. The entire ICON community would like to pass on our deepest condolences to Roy’s family and friends,” the statement reads. “ICON will do everything it can to support the accident investigation going forward and we will comment further when more information is available.”