Joseph Emerson, the off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot who authorities say caused a San Francisco-bound flight to make an emergency diversion to Oregon after he attempted to shut off the engines midflight, also tried grabbing the handle of an emergency exit while flight attendants were detaining him, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Emerson, who is already facing 83 counts ofand reckless endangerment in state court, has now been charged in federal court with one count of interfering with flight crew members and attendants, the U.S. attorney’s office in Oregon announced in a statement Tuesday.
A flight attendant told responding officers that Emerson said he “tried to kill everybody,” according to an FBI agent’s affidavit, which was part of a criminal complaint filed Tuesday.
“I messed everything up,” Emerson said, according to the court documents.
On the ground, Emerson told officers he thought he was having a “nervous breakdown” and that he hadn’t slept in 40 hours, according to the court documents. He said he became depressed about six months ago, but didn’t take any medication.
Emerson and an officer talked about psychedelic mushrooms, and, according to the documents, Emerson said he had taken them for the first time, but it was not clear if that meant he was under the influence of the drug while on the plane or if he had tried them sometime earlier in the previous six months.
Emerson was sitting in the jump seat of the cockpit of Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 from Everett, Washington, on Sunday when he allegedly tried to activate the plane’s emergency fire suppression system, which would have cut off fuel to the engines, prosecutors said.
Before the incident, he and the flight’s pilots were chatting casually in the cockpit, one of the pilots told investigators, according to the court documents. Then, Emerson threw his headset across the cockpit and said, “I am not okay,” according to the documents.
Emerson then grabbed and pulled on the two red handles that would have activated the suppression system, one of the pilots said, according to the documents. The other pilot told investigators Emerson wasn’t able to pull all the way down on the handles because the pilots were wrestling with him.
“I pulled both emergency shut off handles because I thought I was dreaming and I just wanna wake up,” Emerson told officers on the ground, according to the documents.
Emerson and the pilots struggled in the cockpit for around 25 seconds before Emerson settled down, according to the documents. The entire incident lasted about 90 seconds before Emerson was asked to leave the cockpit, with the pilots securing the door behind him.
The cockpit called the flight attendants and told them Emerson was “losing it,” according to the documents. Emerson was then seen peacefully walking to the back of the plane, telling one flight attendant he “just got kicked out of the flight deck,” according to the documents.
“You need to cuff me right now or it’s going to be bad,” Emerson told the flight attendant, according to the documents.
Flight attendants put Emerson in wrist restraints and seated him in the back of the plane. As the plane was making its descent to Portland’s airport, Emerson tried to grab the handle of an emergency exit, prosecutors said. A flight attendant placed her hands on his to stop him.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/alaska-airlines-pilot-joseph-emerson-diverted-flight-emergency-exit-handle/ Alaska Airlines off-duty pilot Joseph Emerson reached for emergency exit after trying to shut off engines, prosecutors say