The death of future Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Roy Halladay in the crash of an Icon A5 light-sport aircraft in 2017 was a shock to aviation, but to the sports world, it set off seismic waves. One of the most dominant pitchers of his era, Halladay threw a perfect game and a no-hitter in a long career spent with the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies. As all big league pitchers do, he suffered injuries, and at some point, he began using pain and other kinds of medication, long after he had rehabbed his injuries.
When the NTSB released its factual report on the crash last month, they shared the medical examiner’s autopsy findings. Halladay had impairing levels of several drugs in his system at the time of the crash. And his flying leading up to the crash just off the Gulf Coast of Tampa, Florida, was erratic and reckless. At least that’s the takeaway from eyewitness accounts and the NTSB’s own factual findings. The Safety Board hasn’t released its final report yet, but when it does, the statement of probable cause will surely discuss the role drugs played in the crash.
Halladay was a licensed pilot, and he had a valid medical certificate, though little has been said about how that is the case, given he had previously done a couple of stints in rehab for his drug use disorders.
The documentary, based on the trailer, will be dramatic, and it will focus on Halladay’s demons, but it will also delve into the crash that claimed his life. When mainstream media outlets address aviation topics, they often get the aviation parts, well, if not wrong, then at least not fully understood. We’ll be looking to see how well ESPN does with these details. Fingers crossed.
Regardless, the special coverage will surely be compelling, at least based on the remarkable trailer. The programs airs on Friday, May 29, on ESPN.