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Coroner: Concord Plane Thief Had Massive Amounts of Meth in System When He Crashed in Fresno

MercuryNews.com, Feb. 15, 2012

A Tracy man who stole a private airplane from a Concord airport and crashed near Fresno earlier this month had "extraordinary" amounts of methamphetamine in his body when he died, authorities said.

Toxicology tests show that Ray Pirro, 52, had a methamphetamine concentration of 2,500 nanograms per milliliter of blood, according to Dr. David Hadden, the Fresno County coroner. A typical level for a regular user of the drug would be between 100 and 300 nanograms, he said.

"This shows chronic, long-term use," Hadden said. "He was extraordinarily tolerant."

Authorities say sometime during the weekend of Feb. 5, Pirro trespassed onto Buchanan Field Airport grounds and hot-wired a Cessna belonging to a Walnut Creek man. The plane crashed into power lines and a canal west of Fresno the afternoon of Feb. 5.

Pirro did not have a pilot's license when he took the plane. Hadden said the amount of drugs in Pirro had a clear effect on his actions.

"You can't rely on consistent behavior at that point," he said.

No one else was injured in the plane crash.