Pilot Who Tried to Shut Down Engines in Flight Said He Took Mushrooms

The pilot riding on the cockpit jumpseat on a Horizon Air flight said “I’m not OK” just before trying to pull the fire suppression handles which would have shut down the engines if the fast-thinking pilot crew hadn’t quickly reset them. The off duty pilot, Joseph Emerson, later said in a statement made to police that he had taken psychedelic mushrooms recently, according to the charging documents made public Tuesday.

Oregon state prosecutors filed 83 counts of attempted murder against Emerson just before he appeared in court. His attorney entered not guilty pleas on his behalf. Federal prosecutors also charged Emerson with interfering with a flight crew, a charge that can carry up to 20 years in prison.

Emerson told Port of Portland police that he had been struggling with depression, one of his friends had recently died and that he had taken psychedelic mushrooms about 48 hours before the flight. He also said he had not slept in more than 40 hours, according to the document.