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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Alaska Airlines pilot Joseph Emerson tried to grab emergency exit handle on diverted flight, prosecutors say

Joseph Emerson, the off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot who authorities say caused a San Francisco-bound flight to make an emergency diversion to Oregon by attempting 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 attempted murder charges in the incident, 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.

Emerson was sitting in the jump seat of the cockpit of Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 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.

When Emerson attempted to grab and pull on the two red handles that would have activated the system, he and the pilots got into a brief struggle in the cockpit, prosecutors said. Emerson then left the cockpit.

Flight attendants put Emerson in wrist restraints and moved him to 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.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

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