Following a preliminary hearing on Monday, Thomas Brent Caldwell, 30, of Pryor, was bound over for trial in Delaware County District Court on three counts of first-degree manslaughter, Special Judge Alicia Littlefield ruled.
The bodies of Mariano Carlos, 15, of Pryor, Eduardo Ortiz Robles, 20, of Mexico, and Campos Gonzalez, 33, also a Mexican National, were found pinned beneath the aircraft in about 12 feet of water on Dec. 15, 2006, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
State prosecutors originally alleged Caldwell was intoxicated while operating the 1972 Bellancia Viking aircraft without a license, according to the information filed in the case.
At the scene, Trooper Robert Rogers reported that Caldwell smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and appeared intoxicated following the crash.
However, a toxicology report from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation indicated that the only thing found in Caldwell's system was an anti-depressant.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has confirmed that Caldwell was given a blood test at St. John's Hospital in Tulsa, where, according to testimony from a family member, his mother is employed as an emergency room nurse.
No witnesses of the crash were called for testimony during the hearing.
Caldwell's attorney, Winston Connor, argued unsuccessfully for the judge to dismiss the case, telling the court that the crash occurred not because Caldwell was an unlicensed pilot, but because of engine failure.
“A plane was seen flying very low but that no engine noise could be heard. Witnesses then heard the plane strike the water,” the OHP report reads.
Caldwell reportedly told investigators at the scene, according to the OHP report, that he lost power before the crash.
Bryce Lair, assistant district attorney, also a licensed pilot, told the court that the training given in preparation for a pilot's license shows a person what to do when things go wrong.
Because Caldwell was never licensed, he didn't know what to do in an emergency, Lair told the court.
Judge Littlefield set district court arraignment in the case for May 9.