For 20 years, Joseph D Emerson had a profitable profession as an airline pilot. He joined the Alaska Air Group in 2001 as a first officer, earlier than turning into a pilot in 2019.
However, on Sunday, one thing instantly modified when the pilot was involved in an incident that has shocked individuals who know him to the core.
Whereas travelling within the flight deck soar seat within the cockpit of a plane flying from Seattle to San Francisco, the 44-year-old allegedly tried to minimize off gas to the engines.
He was subdued by the flight crew, arrested and hit with 167 charges, together with 83 counts of first-degree attempted murder. He now additionally faces a federal cost of interfering with flight crew members and attendants.
Nobody was damage within the incident, authorities mentioned, however the FBI is working with the Port of Portland police to examine the incident.
Many questions stay unanswered as to what led Mr Emerson to allegedly try to crash the plane mid-flight.
Right here’s what we all know up to now:
What occurred on the flight?
Authorities mentioned Mr Emerson, who was off-duty on the time, was travelling within the flight deck soar seat within the cockpit when he instantly tried to shut down each of the plane’s engines by pulling the hearth extinguisher handles.
The 44-year-old was then subdued by flight crew because the captain and first officer intervened to preserve the engines working. Mr Emerson was escorted by a flight attendant to the rear of the plane the place he was positioned in wrist restraints and belted into the aft soar seat.
In accordance to Alaska Airways Mr Emerson additionally tried to seize the deal with of the emergency exit in the course of the plane’s descent earlier than being stopped by a flight attendant.
The flight, which was travelling from Seattle to San Francisco, was diverted to Portland, and all 80 passengers on board have been ready to board a new plane.
Passengers who have been on board the plane advised ABC Information that they weren’t instantly alerted to what Alaska Airlines referred to as the “safety menace”, till a flight attendant advised them over the speaker that there was “an emergency state of affairs and the plane wanted to land instantly”.
As soon as the plane landed, police boarded the plane and arrested Mr Emerson, escorting him off the plane handcuffed.
Aubrey Gavello, one of many passengers on the plane, advised Laura Coates Dwell the suspect was calm and cooperative as he was escorted off the plane.
Following the incident Mr Emerson was faraway from service indefinitely and relieved from all duties at Alaska Airways. The airline mentioned it was now consulting with its companions in labour relating to his employment standing.
Who’s Joseph D Emerson?
Joseph D Emerson was taken into custody and hit with 167 charges, together with 83 counts of first-degree attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment and one rely of endangering an plane, in accordance to authorities.
He has pleaded not responsible to the costs.
His alleged motive for the incident stays unclear.
Prior to the incident Mr Emerson was a pilot with Alaska Airways. In accordance to the airline he joined Alaska Air Group as a Horizon First Officer in August 2001.
In June 2012, Mr Emerson left Horizon to be a part of Virgin America as a pilot however turned an Alaska Airways First Officer following Alaska’s acquisition of Virgin America in 2016. He turned an Alaska Airways Captain in 2019.
Neighbours of the 44-year-old advised The Every day Mail he lives along with his spouse and two younger sons in California. He was described by neighbours as a “pleasant” and “unbelievable father”.
“He performs with the youngsters on a regular basis,” Karen Yee advised the outlet.
“He’s simply a nice man. He’s very understanding of different individuals,” she mentioned.
“We simply couldn’t think about him doing something to damage somebody. It’s very arduous for us to imagine that he would do something deliberately like that,” she added. “I can’t fathom him doing something that might damage anybody.”
In the meantime, her husband Ed Yee described the incident as “very surprising”.
“He looks as if a very nice man. Nothing irregular about him,” he advised CNN.
What was the motive?
It isn’t recognized why Mr Emerson allegedly tried to crash the plane, although he reportedly advised police following arrest that he had had “a nervous breakdown” and had been taking psychadelic mushrooms.
In accordance to a federal affidavit seen by The Unbiased, he advised police he was experiencing a “nervous breakdown,” and had not slept in 40 hours. Mr Emerson defined to the officers: “I didn’t really feel okay. It appeared just like the pilots weren’t paying consideration to what was happening. They didn’t…it didn’t appear proper.”
In the meantime, Alaska Airways mentioned Mr Emerson didn’t have a historical past of medical points.
“All through his profession, Emerson accomplished his mandated FAA medical certifications in accordance with regulatory necessities, and at no level have been his certifications denied, suspended or revoked,” Alaska Airways mentioned in a assertion.
Passengers on the plane mentioned a flight attendant advised them Mr Emerson suffered a psychological breakdown.
“After we did land and the gentleman was escorted off, the flight attendant acquired again on the speaker and mentioned, plain and easy, ‘He had a psychological breakdown. We would have liked to get him off the plane instantly’,’ Aubrey Gavello advised ABC.
Information from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is supporting the regulation enforcement investigation, present the 44-year-old didn’t maintain a certification to fly the ERJ 175 – the kind of plane concerned in Sunday’s incident.
Authorities don’t imagine the incident was an act of terrorism or ideologically-motivated violence, in accordance to CNN.