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.
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.