Toxicology tests negative in Rob Sherman plane crash

  • Rob Sherman

    Rob Sherman

  • More information on the fatal plane crash of activist Rob Sherman has come from a McHenry County coroner's report.

    More information on the fatal plane crash of activist Rob Sherman has come from a McHenry County coroner's report. Courtesy of Paulette Bodnar

Updated 10/3/2017 6:50 PM

Just-released autopsy and toxicology reports have ruled out impairment and health problems as factors in activist Rob Sherman's fatal plane crash last year near Marengo.

The McHenry County coroner's office also found no suicidal intentions or notes, according to documents reviewed by the Daily Herald Tuesday.


"There was no evidence of significant natural disease, which caused or contributed to his death," a pathologist wrote. "Routine (drug and alcohol) tests were negative."

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the Dec. 9 crash that occurred while Sherman, well-known for his atheist activism, was flying from the Poplar Grove Airport to Schaumburg.

Authorities said there were no obvious defects in the aircraft.

A preliminary NTSB report stated the Poplar Grove resident was flying after dark contrary to restrictions on the type of pilot's license he had, and the plane went down after a loss of control.

A representative from the Poplar Grove Airport also told police that Sherman would not have been cleared to fly at night.

"There are no obvious defects in (the) plane and although weather was clear/cold it was evening," documents indicated. Officials also noted that damage to the instrument panel was extensive and the "black box" had yet to be reconstructed.

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The coroner's report found Sherman died of multiple injuries but concluded the manner of death was not determined.

Sherman, 63, had left in his Zenair CH601 at 6:12 p.m. from the Poplar Grove Airport headed to the Schaumburg Regional Airport to attend an Experimental Aircraft Association holiday party, the NTSB said.

A family living near the crash site told police they had heard a "boom" and their house shook the night of Dec. 9, but they did not go outside to check.

Sherman was certified as a sport pilot. Sport pilots may operate light, single-engine aircraft with seating for just two people. In general, sport pilots have certain restrictions that include not flying after dark, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

There were no communications between any air traffic controllers and Sherman, the NTSB said, adding the weather was clear during the flight.

The longtime Buffalo Grove resident and aviation enthusiast moved to Poplar Grove in 2016 to a home with a hangar. Sherman had a wife and two grown children.

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