Oklahoma oil tycoon Aubrey McClendon was driving close to 90 mph just seconds before the fiery crash that killed him a day after his indictment on bid-rigging charges, Oklahoma City police said Monday.
Based on black box data, investigators have determined that the former Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO did not make any real attempt to brake before his natural gas-powered Chevy Tahoe slammed into an underpass in the March 2 crash.
Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty told reporters during a Monday press conference that McClendon “went left of center approximately 189 feet prior to that point of impact.”
The 56-year-old fracking tycoon was not wearing his seatbelt before the wreck and, though he tapped his brakes repeatedly, “it’s not really enough to consider brakeage,” Citty said.
“It didn’t really slow the vehicle.”
In the last 31 feet before impact, the energy magnate let off the brakes altogether. Investigators believe the brakes were functioning properly.
When he smashed into the bridge underpass, McClendon’s vehicle rotated about 7 feet counterclockwise and three wheels went airborne, causing the Tahoe to slow down to about 78 mph by the point of impact.
McClendon suffered blunt force trauma and was probably dead before the flames scorched his body, Citty said.
An official toxicology report could take weeks, but the medical examiner’s preliminary findings indicated that there was no medical episode.
When asked if the death was being considered a suicide, Citty said, “We’re not going to speculate.”
On March 1, a day before the fatal crash, McClendon — who is part-owner of the NBA’s Oklahoma Thunder — was indicted for allegedly overseeing a bidding scheme from December 2007 to March 2012 during his tenure at Chesapeake.
To avoid competing with each other, Chesapeake and another unnamed energy company would decide in advance who would win oil and gas leases. The predetermined winner would allocate interest in the company to the loser so both competitors would benefit.
SandRidge Energy Inc. is the unnamed company, sources told Bloomberg News.
McClendon allegedly violated an antitrust law known as the Sherman Act, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars and a $1 million fine, according to the Justice Department.
“The charge that has been filed against me today is wrong and unprecedented,” McClendon said the day before his death.
“Anyone who knows me, my business record and the industry in which I have worked for 35 years, knows that I could not be guilty of violating any antitrust laws.
“All my life I have worked to create jobs in Oklahoma, grow its economy, and to provide abundant and affordable energy to all Americans. I am proud of my track record in this industry, and I will fight to prove my innocence and to clear my name.”