The JetBlue pilot who had a meltdown on a flight from JFK to Las Vegas yesterday and had to be restrained has been charged with interfering with the flight crew. According to an affidavit obtained by the Associated Press, captain Clayton Osbon told his co-pilots that "things don't matter" during a Las Vegas-bound flight Tuesday. Osbon then allegedly told the plane's first officer that "we're not going to Vegas" and began giving a sermon. Sources tell ABC News Osbon was also "flipping switches in the cockpit and appearing confused."
Fortunately, he the other crew members coaxed him out of the cockpit and locked the door, and after some further drama, Osbon was restrained by a group of passengers. "I was actually the one that took him down," passenger David Gonzalez, a former NYC corrections office, tells ABC News. "He was pinned against the door. I was afraid he was going to knock down the door. I was able to put a choke hold on him. I was able to get him weak from cutting his wind pipe."
Osbon could face up to 20 years in prison for the incident, and he's been suspended from his duties pending further investigation. The pilot, who is currently hospitalized, is expected to undergo toxic screening. ABC reports that this could include "blood counts to make sure he has no infection, vital signs to see if his temperature is within normal ranges and a neurological exam that might include a scan of the brain."
Possible causes of the meltdown include a brain tumor, a toxic reaction to infection, or reaction to medication. "The JetBlue pilot's behavior is much more than a simple panic attack, which might occur as a result of a phobia or panic disorder," Una McCann, director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution, tells ABC. "A brain tumor could do this. They will also investigate things that can impact the central nervous system, like drugs. Drugs prescribed over the counter, and, in particular sleep deprivation, can turn someone over the edge."