Four children found their parents – including their airline pilot father – dead Thursday in their Centerville, Ohio, home in what investigators said appears to be the latest incident in a scourge of drug deaths plaguing Montgomery County and Ohio.
The husband, Brian Halye, was an active pilot for Spirit Airlines, flying for them nine years, and captaining a passenger jet as recently as last Friday.
He and his wife, Courtney Halye, were found in a bedroom of their home on East Von Dette Circle, a suburban cul-de-sac.
The deaths appear “drug related due to paraphernalia found at the scene,” Centerville Police Officer John Davis said. Ken Betz, director of the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, said the incident resembles other opioid cases and “could be consistent with what we’re seeing with fentanyl products in our community.”
“We’ve been talking about this for how long now?” Betz said by phone. “Here I go again … year-to-date, accidental drug overdoses exceeded 160 already this year.”
Official causes of death for the couple have not been released, as a full medical exam will be performed today.
‘They were very cold’
The couple each had two children from previous marriages. In two 911 calls to Centerville police shortly before 8 a.m., the children ages 9 to 13 told dispatchers their parents are on the floor and “not waking up.”
“They were very cold,” said the oldest child, politely answering “yes, ma’am” to the dispatcher as his sisters cried in the background.
The children ran outside the home to relatives as police conducted an investigation. By 10:30, police and emergency response vehicles cleared the usually tranquil neighborhood.
The Halyes purchased their home in summer 2013. The neighborhood, Pellbrook Farm, is just southwest of the Ohio 725-Wilmington Pike intersection. The quiet suburban cul-de-sac features homes valued around $150,000 to $225,000.
Warren County Court records show Brian Halye was divorced in 2011 in a shared parenting case. Courtney Halye was convicted of a felony drug possession charge in 2009, but the case was expunged. Her previous husband Jacob Castor, the father of two of the children, died in 2007 at age 27.
Neighbors were stunned by Thursday’s news.
“There’s never much activity going on over there,” said a neighbor, who declined to be named. Added another neighbor, “That’s what surprises us, because he was an airline pilot, and he flew for Spirit.”
Pilot flew last week
Halye last flew for Spirit on Friday, according to the “ultra low fares” carrier. The pilot’s social media accounts indicate he was based at its Detroit operations center. The airline does not provide service to Dayton International Airport.
“Captain Halye served at the airline for just over nine years,” Paul Berry, the company’s spokesman, said in a statement expressing the company’s sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.
The Dayton Daily News asked Spirit Airlines officials to provide more details about Halye’s last-flown routes and upcoming flights, as well as the dates and results of any drug screenings. Spirit declined to answer.
Federal regulations require employers to administer drug and alcohol testing in pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, random, post-accident, reasonable cause and follow-up situations, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said.
Pilots must hold valid medical certificates in order to fly. The Airline Transport Pilot certificate, which Halye held, requires a first-class medical certificate, which must be updated every 12 months for a pilot under the age of 40. Halye was 36.
The FAA database lists Halye’s medical certificate date as September, 2011, which would mean the certificate expired more than four years ago. Asked to double check, Cory said Halye’s certificate was up-to-date, with it due to expire this fall.
“I’m not sure why the online database does not have that information,” Cory said in an email to the Dayton Daily News. “The system could be in the process of update.”
Dr. Richard Garrison is among the doctors who conducts such tests locally. Garrison said that exam is roughly similar to an annual physical, and also includes vision testing and EKG heart tests for pilots over a certain age. But he said those exams do not include substance-abuse testing.
Drug issues everywhere
Multiple-death overdoses at a single site happened at least four times in Montgomery County in 2016 — including to Jamie Haddix and Darrell Morgan, who were found dead on Christmas Eve. The place where they died, a four-unit apartment building on Wiltshire Boulevard in Kettering, isn’t ground zero in the region’s opioid crisis because there is no ground zero.
“You always hear, ‘It can’t happen in my neighborhood,’ ” said Michael Link, who lives around the corner from the Halyes in Centerville. “But it does.”
Centerville ranked comparatively low on Montgomery County’s 2016 overdose list, with only five residents dying from drug causes, according to preliminary coroner’s data. That’s much lower than comparably sized Trotwood (17), Miamisburg (14) and Riverside (13). But nearly every community in the county had a spot on that list, which included 355 deaths.
Two of the children attended Centerville’s Tower Heights Middle School and two attended another district. Centerville schools Superintendent Tom Henderson said the district “continues to support friends of the students who were part of this family. Centerville had guidance counselors “on call and on deck as needed.”
Henderson said so many students know each other not only from school, but from sports and other cross-community activities that a tragedy like this can have a wider impact that people might think.
“These two students have come up through our district, so we try to be cognizant of that and get out to the other buildings they’ve attended,” Henderson said. “We’ll be ready (Friday) when students come in, and we’ll be ready when the students (in that family) come back to attend school again.”
Staff Writers Chris Stewart, Malik Perkins, Katie Wedell and Hannah Poturalski contributed reporting.