Ex-EMT Accused of Poisoning Wife With Eye Drops, Starting Helicopter Fire

Gaston County, North Carolina's Joshua Hunsucker—who made headlines in 2019 for allegedly poisoning his wife with eye drops—was charged this week with starting a fire aboard a helicopter mid-flight.

According to WCNC Charlotte, the incident occurred in November 2019 on a medical helicopter used to transport patients. An EMT for Atrium Health at the time, Hunsucker reportedly set fire to a syringe pump during a flight, forcing the helicopter to make an emergency landing. Luckily, there were no injuries.

Hunsucker was arrested on Monday on a felony charge of damaging property belonging to Atrium Health. He is scheduled for a probable cause hearing on May 18, 2021.

The arrest came at a time when Hunsucker was already out of jail on bond—he is currently awaiting a trial on charges of allegedly murdering his wife, Stacy Robinson Hunsucker, in 2018. Hunsucker was arrested for the crime in December 2019, only a few weeks after the helicopter fire took place.

Hunsucker's murder allegations made headlines at the time due to their unusual nature; he allegedly killed his wife by poisoning her with eye drops. Court documents report that he put the drops in her water, thus exposing her to deadly amounts of a dangerous chemical ingredient called tetrahydrozoline.

According to The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the ingredient is common in over-the-counter eye drops and is used to decrease redness in eyes—and is completely safe if used correctly. Ingesting tetrahydrozoline orally, however, can easily lead to toxic blood levels. In addition to death, ingesting tetrahydrozoline can cause "drowsiness, slow breathing or absence of breathing, slow heartbeat, hypothermia and possibly even coma."

After his wife's death, Hunsucker refused to have an autopsy performed on her remains. He also reportedly moved quickly to have her body cremated.

Hunsucker is not the first person to be accused of this particular crime. In 2018, Lana Clayton was charged with murdering her husband after high levels of tetrahydrozoline were found in his body. Investigators on that case said she poisoned him over the course of three days, by slowly adding the eye drops to his water.

In addition to his first-degree murder charge, Hunsucker will be on trial for insurance fraud and obtaining property by false pretenses greater than $100,000. Some, including the victim's mother, suspect he committed the murder in order to collect his wife's $250,000 life insurance payout.

Hunsucker's attorney has yet to comment on the newest allegations against him.

Helicopter in Sky
Joshua Hunsucker was charged with setting fire to medical equipment while mid-flight on a helicopter. Joe Raedle/Getty Images