Former Anheuser-Busch CEO had ‘anxiety attack’ and began running sprints during helicopter intoxication arrest

Anheuser-Busch heir August Busch IV had an “anxiety attack” and began running sprints during his arrest for attempting to fly a helicopter under the influence.

The former CEO of his family’s beer empire was taken into custody Monday night after police responded to a call saying an intoxicated man was attempting to fly away in a Bell 407 helicopter that had somehow landed in a southern Illinois parking lot.

A search warrant complaint said Busch blew a .000 on a breathalyzer test, but he and his wife were found with a trove of loaded handguns and pills for anxiety and fertility.

The officer said the businessman, who ran Anheuser-Busch until 2008, began having an anxiety attack after a Rohrbaugh R9 pistol and a bottle of fertility medication for his wife were removed from his pockets.

“August Adolphus Busch IV started jumping around and running sprints stating he was trying to get oxygen to cope with the anxiety attack,” according to a police account of the arrest.

Busch’s wife Dawna Wood allegedly said her husband has had anxiety issues, but was off of his medication because he was taking fertility pills.

In addition to the R9, a search of the 53-year-old and his helicopter found a Ruger .22 pistol, a Ruger .357 Magnum revolver and a Glock .357, all loaded, according to the court filing.

Eight dogs were also in the helicopter, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.

Despite passing the breathalyzer test, police said Busch was arrested after he had difficulty in field sobriety tests such as taking a certain number of steps or following a stimulus with his eyes.

He was released Tuesday afternoon and has not been charged. Busch was ordered to give blood and urine samples at a hospital in Belleville, Ill.

It’s unclear why Busch, who lives in St. Louis, was in southern Illinois and landed the chopper in the parking lot in the small town of Swansea early Monday afternoon.

Police believed the landing was dangerously close to buildings, and notified the Federal Aviation Administration.

Wood was cleared to leave the helicopter with their dogs when her husband was taken into custody.

Cameron Wiggs, who saw the helicopter land Monday afternoon, told the News-Democrat he saw the black and white dogs get off the helicopter, and believed they were Shih Tzus.

Potential charges could include reckless conduct, unlawful use of a weapon and intoxicated person in or about an aircraft, the newspaper reported.


Former brewery scion August A. Busch IV was held overnight Monday by Swansea police after he attempted to leave an office park in his helicopter while appearing to be intoxicated, authorities said.

A breath test showed Busch had no alcohol in his system, but police said he failed field sobriety tests, according to court documents. Police applied for search warrants to obtain blood, urine and other samples.

No charges have been filed. St. Clair County authorities said they are still investigating the incident, which started shortly after noon Monday, when Busch landed the helicopter at the Bronze Pointe office park off Route 159.

Police were called and arrived to find a helicopter that had landed close to buildings and other obstacles. They spoke to the pilot, later identified in court documents as Busch. Unsure of the legalities, officers contacted the Federal Aviation Administration, which said it investigated whether any aviation laws were broken.

Authorities returned to the office park about 8 p.m. when witnesses reported Busch, who appeared intoxicated, was trying to leave in the helicopter, according to court documents. It’s not clear where Busch had been in the meantime.

Swansea police said in court documents that Busch seemed “intoxicated,” “anxious,” “rambling” and “unable to keep a single train of thought.” A breath test showed no alcohol in Busch’s system, but his behavior led police to conduct several field sobriety tests, which court documents indicated Busch failed.

During those tests, his speech was “very mumbled and slurred,” documents say.

Busch declined to provide fluid samples to check for intoxication, and police applied for a warrant to obtain them. The samples were taken at Belleville Memorial Hospital, police said. Results were not yet available.

Busch told police he has a concealed carry permit in Missouri, and had a loaded gun in his pocket, according to court documents. Busch gave police permission to search the helicopter, where they found three more loaded handguns and a pepper spray gun, court documents say.

Several types of prescription drugs also were recovered, the documents noted. Some were prescribed to Busch and others to the woman who was with him, identified in court documents as Dawna M. Wood who identified herself as Busch’s wife but we have learned that they are not married.

Busch told police he had the drugs to treat his anxiety issues, police said. At one point while talking to police, Busch began jumping around and running sprints, telling police he needed to get more oxygen to cope with an anxiety attack. Police called for an ambulance, but it was not needed.

Busch was held by Swansea police overnight on suspicion of reckless conduct, unlawful use of a weapon and being intoxicated “in or about an aircraft.” He was released shortly after noon Tuesday. No charges were filed.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said the case still is under investigation.

Busch, 53, is the former head of Anheuser-Busch Cos. and ran the brewing giant from 2006 until it was bought out two years later. He has had several high-profile dealings with police.


HELICOPTER PILOT ARRESTED
Swansea Police Department

On 07-10-17 at 12:48 PM Swansea Police Officers were dispatched to a report of a helicopter landing, for an unknown reason, at 1 Bronze Point, Swansea. Upon their arrival the helicopter was already on the ground in a parking lot. Assessment of the area and safety of the helicopter taking off due to close obstacles and buildings was of concern. Chief Steve Johnson contacted the FAA and they advised they would investigate the landing and requested pictures and information. The requested information was forwarded.

On 07-10-17 at 8:14 PM Swansea Police Officers were notified by a caller the pilot had returned to the helicopter and appeared too intoxicated to take off. When a Swansea Officer arrived the helicopter rotors were spinning and the engine was revving up. The Officer turned on the emergency lights on the squad car and the pilot powered down the engine. A second Swansea Officer arrived on scene. After a conversation with the pilot Standardized Field Sobriety Tests were performed on the pilot. Due to the totality of the circumstances the pilot was taken into custody. The St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office issued a search warrant for the blood, urine, breath or other bodily substance of the pilot. The pilot was transported to a local hospital where this was performed.

Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson said, “We have been in close communications and coordination with the FAA and the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office. This is not your normal case that a street police officer handles. The safety and security of the community, the pilot and passenger were of the utmost concern. The pilot was released from custody on 07-11-17 at 12:28 PM pending completion of the investigation. Family members are contacting another pilot to remove the helicopter.”


Busch told police he had the drugs to treat his anxiety issues, police said. At one point while talking to police, Busch began jumping around and running sprints, telling police he needed to get more oxygen to cope with an anxiety attack. Police called for an ambulance, but it was not needed.

Busch was held by Swansea police overnight on suspicion of reckless conduct, unlawful use of a weapon and being intoxicated “in or about an aircraft.” He was released shortly after noon Tuesday. No charges were filed.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said the case still is under investigation.

Busch, 53, is the former head of Anheuser-Busch Cos. and ran the brewing giant from 2006 until it was bought out two years later. He has had several high-profile dealings with police.

In January, Busch was questioned by police after he pulled a gun during a confrontation at a bank in Key West, Fla. No arrests were made, no charges were filed and no one was injured.

In that incident, police said a man in a pickup became angry with Busch for parking in a manner that blocked access to a bank door.

A witness said that while Busch walked to an ATM, the pickup driver got out of his vehicle, began yelling at Busch and walked toward him. The witness said Busch pulled out a handgun but kept it pointed at the ground.

In 1984, Busch avoided criminal charges after a car crash in Arizona that killed a 22-year-old woman.

In 1986, Busch was acquitted by a jury of third-degree assault charges in connection with a high-speed police chase in the city’s West End.

Then in 2010, Adrienne Martin, Busch’s girlfriend, died of an accidental drug overdose at Busch’s estate in Huntleigh. Two years later, Busch paid $1.75 million to settle a wrongful-death civil suit.

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