Airline pilot and wife found dead by children overdosed on cocaine and painkillers

CENTERVILLE, Ohio — A toxicology report confirmed a drug overdose as the cause of death for a Spirit Airlines pilot and his wife, who were found dead in their southwest Ohio home by their children on March 16.

Brian J. Halye, 36, and 34-year-old Courtney A. Halye died as a result of “cocaine and carfentanil intoxication,” said Dr. Kent Harshbarger, the Montgomery County coroner, in a report released Tuesday.

The painkiller carfentanil, a version of fentanyl, is 10,000 times stronger than morphine. It is used commercially to sedate large animals, such as elephants, and drug dealers use it to cut heroin and increase their supply.

The toxicology report notes that husband and wife suffered pulmonary edema, “which is fluid in the lungs, basically, a classic characteristic of an opiate intoxication,” Harshbarger said.

According to Officer John Davis of the Centerville Police Department, the Halyes left behind a “blended family”: two 11-year-old girls, a 10-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy. The children are now with other family members.

The morning of March 16, police responded to two 911 calls placed by the children, Davis said. As the boy spoke to a dispatcher, his sisters’ cries could be heard in the background.

“My two parents are on the floor. My sisters say they are not waking up,” the boy said. Asked whether they were breathing, he responded, “I don’t think so,” and “they were very cold.”

Paul Berry, a Spirit Airlines spokesman, confirmed Thursday that Capt. Brian Halye had served the airline for just over nine years.

“His final Spirit flight was on March 10, ten days before his death,” Berry wrote in an email, adding that “Spirit Airlines is fully compliant” with federal regulations.

Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation regulations include random drug and alcohol testing for pilots. The drugs for which tests are required are marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP) and opiates.

“Our hearts go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of Captain Halye,” Berry said.