The death of footballer Emiliano Sala prompted an outpouring of grief after a plane taking him to Cardiff crashed into the English Channel.
With results of his toxicology report now public, let’s take a look at what happened to the gifted player and those involved in the crash.
What caused the plane crash?
Sala and his pilot were poisoned by carbon monoxide before their plane crashed into the English Channel, the star’s toxicology report revealed.
He was exposed to “deadly” levels of the gas before the private plane plunged into the water on January 21, with pilot David Ibbotson’s body still missing.
It is unclear whether the pair passed out and died on the plane from the exposure – or if they died from their injuries in the crash.
A pre-inquest hearing into the tragedy previously heard Sala died from “head and trunk injuries” – with his body so badly damaged he had to be identified by his fingerprints.
But in August the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) suggested he could have already been unconscious when the doomed plane plunged into the Channel as it flew from France to Cardiff.
Toxicology results on the £15million Cardiff striker’s body showed he had a saturation level of 58 per cent of carbon monoxide (CO) in his blood.
Medics say any exposure over 50 per cent to a healthy human can result in seizures, unconsciousness and heart attacks.
Argentine ace Sala, 28, had just signed for Cardiff City for £15million from Nantes and was flying to meet his teammates when the Piper Malibu PA-46 flown by Mr Ibbotson went down off Guernsey on January 21, 2019.
Sala’s remains were recovered in February, but Mr Ibbotson, of Crowle, Lincs, is still missing.
David Henderson, 64, a private pilot, was registered as taking charge of the flight, while ex-football agent Willie McKay — whose son Mark brokered Sala’s transfer – arranged the flight.
On January 23, aviation experts exclusively told The Sun how a build up of ice on the wings of the aircraft carrying Emiliano Sala could have been the cause of the crash.
Sala sent WhatsApp messages to his friends as the plane lurched in rough conditions, saying the plane “looks like it’s going to fall apart”.
One aviation expert claimed: “There are reports that the footballer was texting saying the aircraft is shaking and breaking up are classic signs of icing on the wings.
“The pilot is most likely wrestling with a stall at 2,300ft.
“It is likely, though, that the aircraft hit the water in one piece otherwise debris would have quickly been found.”
Two seat cushions were discovered on the coast of Surtainville, northwestern France – over a week after the Cardiff City star’s plane vanished over the Channel.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the cushions are likely to have been from the Piper Malibu plane which vanished on Monday, January 21.
It has also been reported that pilot David Ibbotson, 60, admitted he was “a bit rusty” at the controls before the aircraft vanished.
He told pals his fears after arriving in France two days before his aircraft went missing – and even joked about the state of his landing.
The married dad-of-four from Scunthorpe, Lincs, told a pal: “Was not too bad when I got there, but I’m a bit rusty with the ILS (instrument landing system).”
He then said the landing had been “a little bit on the high side hehe, better than on the low side”.
He spent Sunday in Nantes before meeting Sala at the city’s airport on Monday evening.
Reports suggested they had attempted to take off four times before finally getting airborne.
The plane climbed to 5,000ft but later asked Jersey air traffic control for permission to drop to 2,300ft. It then vanished at 8.30pm near Alderney.
A preliminary accident report said Mr Ibbotson was not licensed to fly fee-paying passengers.
The flight was arranged by ex-football agent Willie McKay — whose son Mark brokered Sala’s transfer — via Mr Henderson.
Who was arrested for manslaughter?
A man was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter over Sala’s death on June 19, 2019.
Cops quizzed a 64-year-old — believed to be pilot David Henderson.
He was registered as taking charge of the doomed flight from France to Cardiff, but later drafted in David Ibbotson, 59.
The man was later released from custody under investigation.
Det Insp Simon Huxter, of the force’s Major Crime Investigation Team urged people not to speculate about the identity of the man as it could hinder the investigation.
Who faces jail for accessing CCTV footage of the post-mortem?
Two ghouls who accessed CCTV of Emiliano Sala’s dead body are facing jail after admitting the vile crime in court.
Christopher Ashford, 62, and Sherry Bray, 49, admitted illegally accessing CCTV at Bournemouth Mortuary and replaying a post-mortem of the Cardiff City footballer after he died in a plane crash.
The pair have been released on bail until September 20.
What does carbon monoxide do to the body?
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no smell or taste.
Breathing it in can make you unwell – and it can kill if you’re exposed to high levels.
Every year there are around 60 deaths from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in England and Wales, according to the NHS.
After carbon monoxide is breathed in, it enters your bloodstream.The chemical then attaches to the haemoglobin – the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body – to form carboxyhaemoglobin.
When this happens, the blood is no longer able to carry oxygen. This lack of oxygen causes the body’s cells and tissue to fail and die.
At a COHb level of 10%, carbon monoxide is likely to cause headaches, and at somewhat higher levels there will be also dizziness, nausea and vomiting.At a COHb level of about 40%, carbon monoxide starts to cause coma and collapse, and at 50–60% the poisonings are lethal.
When was he confirmed dead?
Emiliano Sala was confirmed dead after the Cardiff City striker’s body was pulled from plane crash wreckage in the English Channel.
Tthe small plane was found on the bottom of the ocean north of Guernsey, on Wednesday, February 6 – more than two weeks after it disappeared.
The 28-year-old was identified by the Dorset coroner on Thursday, February 7.
An inquest into his death in Dorset on February 11 opened and adjourned after hearing how a post-mortem confirmed Sala died from “head and trunk” injuries.
Sala was flying from Nantes, western France, to Cardiff after making a club-record £15million transfer to the Premier League strugglers when the plane disappeared on January 21.
On February 3 the wreckage of the Piper Malibu N264DB was discovered in the English Channel, finally giving Sala’s family some answers.
The world of football united in grief over the loss, with Sala’s new club and teammates saying the Argentinian will “forever remain in our thoughts”.
It is now claimed that the pilot made “basic errors” before their plane crashed into the English Channel.
David Ibbotson decided not to use flight instruments that were vital to flying through cloudy conditions on the night of the doomed flight to Cardiff, according to new claims.
He also filled the Malibu-Piper aircraft’s licence number incorrectly on his flight plan form.
While other documents show he was not licensed to take passengers – only himself.
The damning claims have been made by Argentinian journalist Christian Martin.
Martin, who works for Fox News, claimed Mr Ibbotson used Visual Flight Rules (VFR) instead of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) on the night of January 21.
Sala turned down an offer from Cardiff City to take a commercial flight because he said he had already arranged his journey with ex-football agent Willie McKay, the man who had helped broker his transfer deal.
The messages produced by French outlet Ouest-France show a Cardiff Player Liaison Officer sending a screenshot offering a commercial flight passing through Paris for the striker to take.
The WhatsApp messages are in French and Spanish and show Sala declining the offer because he already had a flight arranged after McKay called him.
It comes as McKay has accused Cardiff City of “abandoning” Sala.
What has his family said?
The footballer’s family has been told the devastating news and are being supported by specially-trained family liaison officers.
“Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time,” a spokesman for Dorset Police said.
“HM Coroner will continue to investigate the circumstances of this death supported by Dorset Police.”
His devastated sister Romina led the tributes to the talented footballer, saying: “Your soul will shine forever thus illuminating the time of my existence.
“I love you.”
The devastating announcement came hours after she posted a picture of the 28-year-old with their mum Mercedes ahead of the official news.
How has the footballing world paid tribute to Sala?
Stars from around the world including Kylian Mbappe, Alexandre Lacazette and Benjamin Mendy led the tributes online after Dorset Police said they had identified the body.
A statement posted on Cardiff’s official website read: “It is with great sadness that we report the following statement, issued on February 7 2019 by the Dorset Police: ‘The body brought to Portland Port today, Thursday 7 February 2019, has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala. The families of Mr Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially-trained family liaison officers’.”
The football club also said: “We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano.
“He and David will forever remain in our thoughts.”
Sala’s teammate Joe Bennett tweeted a crying emoji and wrote: “RIP Emiliano”.
Fellow Cardiff player Sol Bamba added: “Tragic… May you rest in peace.”
Here are just some of the social media posts paying tribute to the Argentine star:
Has the pilot been found?
The family of missing pilot David Ibbotson who is feared dead in the plane crash with Sala are reportedly “beside themselves with grief” as they do not know what has happened to him.
Mr Ibbotson’s wife Nora has been desperately waiting for news at her home in Crowle, near Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.
A relative of the heartbroken family told the MailOnline: “What’s happened is awful and all we want is for David’s body to be found so we can lay him to rest properly, as he deserves, and pay our respects.
“Not knowing where he is and if his body has been found or maybe never will be is the worst thing ever.”
The family are still desperately trying to raise £300,000 needed to bring his body back home.