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Shroomed Out Ex-Pilot Who Tried to Cut Engines Released from Jail Pending Trial

A former Alaska Airlines pilot accused of allegedly trying to cut the engines of a passenger flight while off-duty and riding in a seat in the cockpit area was released from jail Dec. 7. An Oregon judge ruled that he should be released with conditions that include keeping far away from all flights.

Adventures and bad trips on shrooms can cause a laugh, but certainly not for the family of the accused in this particular case.

State prosecutors in Oregon initially filed 83 counts of attempted murder against ex-Alaska Airlines pilot Joseph David Emerson, 44, on Oct. 24 just before he appeared in court, with his attorney, Noah Horst, entering not guilty pleas on his behalf. Emerson pleaded not guilty to reduced charges of reckless endangerment, and pleaded not guilty to a federal charge of interfering with a flight crew. 

Last Thursday, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Ryan ruled that he could be released pending trial. 

As Emerson declined to comment to the press Thursday, his wife, Sarah Stretch, expressed her feelings about the serious situation her husband is now in. “I’m saddened that this situation had to happen to my husband and to the people it affected. But I know that this has created a movement and momentum to help thousands of other pilots,” Stretch said.

“Is he criminally responsible? No. Does he need help? Yes,” Emerson’s attorney Horst told reporters. “Does Mr. Emerson deserve to be home today with his family and surrounded by his friends? Yes, he does.”

Emerson is accused of trying to cut the engines of a Horizon Air flight traveling from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco on Oct. 22 while riding in the cockpit as an off-duty pilot.

After causing chaos on the flight, he was eventually subdued by the flight crew and the plane was diverted to Portland, Oregon, where it landed safely with more than 80 people on board.

Emerson ate shrooms a full two days before the encounter, but hadn’t slept it off. According to court documents, Emerson told Port of Portland police in Oregon, following his arrest that he had been struggling with depression, that he was dealing with a friend’s death, and that he had taken psilocybin mushrooms about 48 hours before he attempted to cut the engines. 

He had not slept in over 40 hours, according to the document.

The release conditions include that Emerson undergo mental health services, stay away from drugs and alcohol, and not come within 30 feet (9 meters) of an operable aircraft. 

High Times has reported on numerous 

A man flying from Miami to Washington, D.C. on October 4 was arrested after allegedly assaulting passengers and United Airlines flight crew members, high on psilocybin mushrooms, according to Virginia court documents recovered by NBC News.

FBI agents say Chelluy Loghan Sevilla is charged with assault and interfering with flight crew members, Boston Herald reports. Sevilla was aboard United Airlines flight 2116 last Tuesday and began acting erratically.

Before passengers were done boarding the plane, the unruly passenger began “wandering around the plane, running up and down the aisle, clapping loudly near the cockpit, and yelling obscenities,” the court affidavit reads. He was also “getting in other passengers’ faces—staring and smiling at them.”

About one hour into the flight, Sevilla assaulted at least two people. He opened a locked bathroom while it was still being used by a fellow passenger, and broke off a piece of the bathroom door in the process.

At that point, flight attendants were able to convince Sevilla to return to his seat, briefly, but then he laid on the floor, yelling louder. When one flight crew member tried to get him into his seat, he allegedly attacked her.

Sevilla suddenly jumped and attacked her, “grabbing and twisting [her] breast,” the court affidavit reads. He also twisted the arm of a second flight attendant. Like all flights, a sky marshal was aboard the plane, and subdued and handcuffed Sevilla.

The mildly psychedelic effects from cannabis can also cause havoc, particularly when they involve edibles and inexperience. An edible was blamed for a violent outburst from a passenger on a Delta Airlines flight several years ago.

Joseph Daniel Hudek IV first made headlines back in 2017 for an irate outburst he had on a Delta Airlines flight from Seattle to Beijing. On that July 6, 2017 flight, Hudek became so violent and out of control that passengers and flight attendants had to work together to subdue him.

And in an affidavit released this week, Hudek finally issued his official excuse for his behavior: he got too high eating edibles.

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