Skip Navigation LinksHome > March 2013 - Volume 34 - Issue 1 > Postmortem Ethanol in the Setting of Ethanol-Containing Auto...
American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology:
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e31825faafe
Case Reports

Postmortem Ethanol in the Setting of Ethanol-Containing Automotive Fuel

Garber, Mitchell A. MD, MPH, MSME*; Canfield, Dennis V. PhD; Lewis, Russell J. PhD; Simmons, Samuel D. MD, MBA; Radisch, Deborah L. MD, MPH

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Abstract

Abstract: The pilot of a light aircraft that crashed after a loss of power was found to have ethanol in the vitreous and the blood, but almost none in the urine. The globes of the eyes were intact, and the body was refrigerated after recovery until the autopsy was performed the following morning. The pilot was described as a “nondrinker,” and additional specialized toxicology testing results were inconsistent with ethanol ingestion. The pilot’s body was extensively exposed to fuel during the prolonged extraction. Investigation determined that the aircraft had been fueled with gasoline that contained 10% ethanol. Although exposure to automotive fuel has not been previously described as a source of ethanol in postmortem specimens, it may represent a source for the ethanol detected during postmortem toxicology testing in this case, and this finding may be relevant to other cases with similar exposure.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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