‘This is not my Joe’: Wife of pilot reacts after averted Horizon Air disaster


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The wife of a former Alaska Airlines pilot who police say tried to cut the engines of a Horizon Air flight while riding in the cockpit jump seat said Thursday she knew her husband was struggling with depression but that she was in a state of shock over his arrest.

“This is not my Joe,” she told reporters after attending her husband Joseph Emerson’s first appearance in federal court in Portland, Oregon.

“He never would’ve done that. He never would’ve knowingly done any of that,” she said, her voice quivering. “That is not the man that I married.”

Ethan Levi, a defense attorney for Emerson, said that Emerson was not suicidal or homicidal while on board the Horizon Air flight. He added that Emerson wanted to thank the flight crew for their “timely and heroic actions.”

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State and federal prosecutors accused Emerson of trying to engage an emergency fire suppression system while riding in the cockpit jump seat as an off-duty pilot on Horizon Air flight 2059 from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco on Sunday. After a brief struggle with the pilots, he left the cockpit and was placed in wrist restraints in the back of the plane, according to court documents.

The plane was diverted to Portland, where it landed safely with more than 80 people on board.

Emerson has pleaded not guilty to state charges of attempted murder. He also faces a federal charge of interfering with a flight crew.

In charging documents, police said Emerson told them he’d had a nervous breakdown, had been struggling with depression and hadn’t slept for 40 hours.

Emerson also said he had taken psychedelic mushrooms for the first time about 48 hours earlier. The pilots and others who encountered Emerson said he did not appear intoxicated, according to court documents.

Emerson was to remain in custody.


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