Off-Duty Pilot Tried To Crash

Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images (Getty Images)

Three passengers have filed a lawsuit against Alaska Airlines. The plaintiffs were onboard Flight 2059 when off-duty pilot Joseph David Emerson, riding the cockpit jump seat, attempted to shut off the plane’s engines. He was dragged out of the cockpit and restrained as the flight was diverted. Emerson told the police afterward that he had taken psychedelic mushrooms for the first time and had not slept in the 40 hours before the flight.

The suit filed by Matthew Doland, Theresa Stelter and Paul Stephen alleges that Emerson should have never been allowed in the cockpit, CBS News reports. The plaintiffs also claimed that they had suffered fear of flying, anxiety and insomnia since the October 22 flight. Despite open-seeking class-action status for the lawsuit, their account of what happened during the flight differs from other passengers and flight data.

The complaint describes the plane experiencing a “nose-dive” but passengers after the flight told media outlets that they didn’t know what was happening until an attendant made an announcement about the diversion. Daniel Laurence, a lawyer at the firm representing the passengers, stated:

“Airlines can and should take simple and reasonable steps before each flight to challenge the presumption that every pilot who shows up at the gate is rested, sober, and in the right state of mind to fly. Emerson’s statements while in the air and shortly after his arrest show that had the airlines here done so, he would never have been allowed aboard… Only luck prevented it from becoming a mass disaster.”

Emerson himself pleaded not guilty to 83 counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment, and a count of endangering an aircraft.

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