SF Ship Pilot May Have Had Sleep Disorder

Captain reportedly on two prescription meds for drowsiness, anxiety
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2008 6:46 PM CST
Birds fly over Crissy Field East Beach, which is closed for oil clean up in San Francisco, on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007. The cargo ship Cosco Busan struck one of four supports beneath the San Francisco-Oakland...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The ship pilot who hit a San Francisco bridge and unleashed the bay's worst oil spill in nearly 20 years may have been on drugs for a sleep disorder, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Captain John Cota was reportedly taking two kinds of prescription medication to prevent drowsiness and treat anxiety. Feds are now probing whether a Coast Guard licensing plan should have prevented his hiring.

A 25-year veteran, Cota had disclosed his sleep apnea and prescription drug use to the Coast Guard, but the American Pilots Association chief said the process can be mysterious: “You send all your information to the Coast Guard, and it kind of goes behind closed doors.” Cota is one of 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, the AP notes.