SWANSEA, IL — The former CEO of the brewing company Anheuser-Busch has been busted for trying to fly his helicopter while appearing drunk and carrying weapons, police say.
August Adolphus Busch IV was in his helicopter with his wife Dawna M. Wood and carrying four loaded guns, eight dogs, and a bevy of prescription pills, according to police accounts and a search warrant application filed Tuesday.
Police were called to the Bronze Pointe office complex parking lot in Swansea, Illinois, on Monday night following reports that a drunk man was attempting to take off. They found Busch, the 53-year-old great-great-grandson of Anheuser-Busch founder Adolphus Busch, in the pilot seat.
According to the Belleville News-Democrat, Busch agreed to shut the helicopter down but was unable to maintain a train of thought or perform basic field sobriety tests. However, he took a portable breathalyzer at the scene, which came back negative for alcohol.
Busch then refused to take a blood test, and police obtained a search warrant commanding Busch to give “blood, urine, or other bodily fluid” at Memorial Hospital in Belleville.
Some of the prescription pills found were prescribed to Wood, who reportedly told police that her husband was meant to be taking anxiety medication but had stopped to undergo fertility treatment.
Busch spent the night in jail, but was released without charge on Tuesday. St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said that authorities are awaiting toxicology results before making a decision on whether to file charges.
Busch has had brushes with the law on a number of occasions throughout his life. In 1983, he was driving a car in Arizona when it crashed and the passenger, a 21-year-old waitress, was killed. Busch, who reportedly left the scene of the accident without telling anyone, was found six hours later at his home holding a sawed-off shotgun. He was dazed and bloodied with a skull fracture, and said he had amnesia.
Blood and urine samples were taken, but the hospital inexplicably lost or damaged all of the evidence — and no charges were brought in the case. William Knoedelseder, who wrote a biography of the Busch family, speculated that Busch attorneys likely made a private settlement with the Frederick family.
Busch was arrested at the age of 20 in St. Louis after leading undercover police in a car chase with speeds reaching between 85 and 90 miles per hour before cops ended the chase by shooting out the rear tire of Busch’s Mercedes. The police accused Busch of trying to run over two officers; he claimed he thought they were attempting to kidnap him. He was acquitted of assault by a jury in St. Louis.
In 2010, he was questioned again after his 27-year-old girlfriend was found dead at his home of an overdose. Adrienne Nicole Martin was found with high levels of oxycodone and cocaine in her system at autopsy, but her death was ruled as an accidental overdose.
Robert P. McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney, said in 2011 that the investigation had hit a “dead end,” partly because Busch declined to answer questions about the case, according to The New York Times. Martin’s family sued him in a wrongful-death lawsuit which he settled for $1.75 million in 2012.
Busch took over as the brewing company’s CEO in 2006. He spent just two years in the position before selling the company — which had been in family hands for 156 years — to InBev for $52 billion.
In January, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Busch was involved in an altercation at a bank in Key West, Florida, in which a man became angry with the way Busch had parked his car, alleging it blocked access to an ATM machine. When the man confronted him, Busch allegedly pulled a licensed handgun, but kept it pointed at the ground.
Once again, Busch was not charged.
Main photo: August Adolphus Busch IV [BND News / YouTube (screenshot)]