NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a frightening experience for dozens of passengers aboard a JetBlue flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport bound for Las Vegas on Tuesday.
JetBlue said in a statement that after Flight 191 departed at 7:28 a.m. ET, the pilot in command of the plane diverted to Amarillo, Texas at around 11 a.m. due to “a medical situation involving the captain.”
The captain, identified as 49-year-old veteran pilot Clayton Osbon of Georgia, was arrested and taken off the plane, handcuffed to a wheelchair and rolled to an ambulance for a medical evaluation.
Passengers on board the flight said he was pounding on the cockpit door and yelling and screaming, CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reports. They also said he was foaming at the mouth and mentioned the word “bomb” in addition to “al Qaeda” and “Afghanistan.”
“He was yelling and screaming, seemed like he was having a panic attack,” passenger Grant Heppes said.
1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera Speaks With Passengers
“He just totally lost it — completely irrational,” Manhattan businessman Peter Karoczkai told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “He started yelling that we should all be saying our prayers.”
CBS News learned Osbon was observed by the co-pilot as behaving erratically in the cockpit, and was urged to head to the bathroom. He was then locked out. The captain’s actions apparently were “completely out of character” for the “well-respected, well-liked” Osbon.
“And he started hammering the door with his fists, pounding on the door,” said passenger Josh Redick.
Redick, a father of two from Huntington, Long Island, was among six to eight passengers who used seat belts and their own weight to hold the captain down.
“We had his hands tied behind his back, we like used belts and seat belt extenders and so forth to tie his hands together and then we tied his legs up,” Karoczkai said.
A federal government official told CBS the captain became incoherent, which caused the co-pilot to become concerned. According to the official, the co-pilot convinced the captain to leave the cockpit and then locked him out. When the captain started pounding on the cockpit door, he was subdued by the men.
Meanwhile, another JetBlue pilot, who was on board as a traveler, was ushered into the cockpit to assist in landing the plane, CBS 2’s Chris Wragge reported.
The plane landed safely in Amarillo at 11:11 a.m. and the ill crew member was taken from the aircraft, the airline said.
Arrested and safely off the plane, a new crew was brought in to continue the flight to Vegas. Passengers, including those who tackled the captain, were relieved it’s all over.
“We New Yorkers have been through so much more worse than this, that we all remained incredibly calm, with the exception of a few people who started crying,” passenger Laurie Dhue said.
“Our first reaction was to get him to the floor, strap him in, tie him up, and let’s land this plane,” added passenger David Gonzalez.
Video purportedly of the aftermath of the incident surfaced on YouTube. The video shows several people standing near the front of the plane.
Another video uploaded by the same user, which contains some strong language, shows personnel boarding the plane and asking passengers to remain in their seats.
Images have surfaced online of a man wearing a blue shirt strapped to a chair being carried down the steps of the plane.
While the entire situation is believed to have been medical in nature, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration and local law enforcement are coordinating the investigation.
Is enough being done to care for the health of pilots? What do you make of this situation? Sound off in our comments section below.