It has been revealed that the off-duty pilot who allegedly caused a San Francisco-bound Horizon Air flight to divert to Portland by attempting to turn off the engines mid-flight told police he was high on magic mushrooms at the time.
Joseph Emerson, 44, admitted to having consumed the psychedelic drug prior to boarding the plane, and said he thought he was dreaming when he nearly downed the plane.
It was also revealed that Emerson was a leftist that tweeted against Donald Trump and in favor of union issues for pilots.
According to a criminal complaint filed with the US District Court in Oregon obtained by KOMO News, Emerson told an officer that it was his first time taking psilocybin, and that he hadn't slept in 40 hours.
"I thought I was dreaming and I just wanna wake up," he said when asked why he had decided to try and activate the plane's fire suppression system, which would have blocked fuel from entering the engines.
Emerson, who has been a pilot since 2001 and was last certified in July, explained that he had entered the cockpit and chatted with the captain before sitting down in the jump seat. He eventually began having a "nervous breakdown," at which point he reached for the handle. The other men in the cockpit were able to stop him following a brief altercation, and he made his way to the back of the plane.
"You need to cuff me right now or it's going to be bad," he told a flight attendant, adding, "I messed everything up." As the plane descended into Portland, Emerson tried to open one of the emergency doors, but was talked out of it.
When they touched down, he was promptly arrested and charged by deputies from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office. Emerson faces 83 counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of endangering an aircraft, as well as a federal charge of interfering with flight crew members and attendants.
He is set to appear in court at 2 p.m. PST on Tuesday.
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