PESOTUM — State agriculture officials have charged the pilot who inadvertently sprayed fungicide on more than 70 teens as they were detasseling corn in southern Champaign County with violating the Illinois Pesticide Act.
Jeff Squibb, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Agriculture, said on Wednesday that the department has ticketed Josh Pavia, who Squibb said was an employee of Atlantic Ag Aviation in Roper, N.C., for “applying a pesticide in a faulty, careless or negligent manner.”
Squibb had no information on Pavia’s age or address.
Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana reported seeing 79 patients who were exposed to what was believed to be fungicide as they were detasseling corn in southern Champaign County just before 9 a.m. July 25.
Several dozen teens were hit by drift from a crop-dusting plane that was over an adjacent field in southeast of Pesotum.
At least three area fire departments responded to a field a half-mile south of the intersection of county roads 200 N and 1100 E.
Allen Rinehart, Carle’s emergency department director, said that each of the teens was thoroughly decontaminated immediately on site.
A hearing on Pavia’s case has been scheduled for Sept. 18 at the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Administrative Building in Springfield.
“These are not criminal charges,” Squibb said. “They are administrative charges brought by the Department of Agriculture.
“An administrative law judge will consider the charge and make a ruling. All state agencies have an administrative process like this for different types of violations.”
According to Squibb, if Pavia is found guilty, he faces a fine of up to $750, the maximum allowed under the state statute given the circumstances of the incident and the fact that Pavia has no prior violations.