Passengers Headed to ISC West Help Restrain Captain After Crisis on JetBlue Flight
LAS VEGAS — The captain of a JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas who shouted about bombs and Al Qaeda after suffering what was described as a “medical situation” was subdued by passengers, many of whom were on their way to attend ISC West.
The pilot’s bizarre behavior forced passengers of Flight 191 to restrain him as the plane made an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas, where he was removed from the aircraft and hospitalized, according to news reports.
ABC News interviewed a “hero passenger” who helped subdue the pilot.
“I knew there were about 130 people on the plane … families, kids … and I thought, this is not going to happen on my plane,” said David Gonzalez, 50, an employee of Tri-Ed/Northern Video Distribution.
Gonzalez, a former New York City Department of Corrections officer, described putting the pilot in a chokehold, according to ABC News. The pilot passed out about three minutes later, and other male passengers helped subdue him.
Gonzalez, a father of five, lives with his family in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, he told ABC News. “ ‘We got to get this plane down. This guy is nuts,’ ” Gonzalez recalled thinking.
As of Tuesday night, JetBlue had not released the captain’s name or condition. A spokeswoman said the captain had experienced a “medical situation,” but did not elaborate.
On Tuesday, Flight 191 left Kennedy Airport at 7:28 a.m. with 135 passengers and six crew members, one of whom was off duty. A spokeswoman for the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said the co-pilot became concerned as the flight was under way that the captain “exhibited erratic behavior.” The captain left the cockpit during the flight, and the co-pilot locked the door, according to the statement.
The captain tried to re-enter the locked cockpit, but his security code appeared to have changed, and he was seen banging on the door and could be heard demanding to be let back inside, passengers said. It was then that passengers restrained him.
The co-pilot diverted to Amarillo while the off-duty pilot took over the captain’s duties, according to news reports. The plane landed at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport at 10:11 a.m., and the captain was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.
Passengers got off the plane, and waited to board another one to Las Vegas. The men who subdued the captain, several of whom are former or current security professionals and law enforcement officers, used their belts to tie his arms, according to news reports.
View video footage of the incident below:
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