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JetBlue captain's 'medical situation' diverts Vegas flight

March 27, 2012|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Reporting from Houston — A JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas landed unexpectedly in Amarillo, Texas, Tuesday morning after the co-pilot took over for the captain, who suffered a sudden "medical situation," a airline spokeswoman told The Times.

"The pilot in command elected to divert to Amarillo, TX for a medical situation involving the Captain," the airline said in a statement. "Another Captain, traveling off duty, entered the flight deck prior to landing at Amarillo, and took over the duties of the ill crew member once on the ground."

A federal official told CBS that sometime after the flight departed at 7:28 a.m. EDT, the pilot became incoherent, prompting the co-pilot to ask him to leave the cockpit. Expelled from the cockpit, the captain started pounding on the door and had to be subdued by the off-duty pilot and a police officer, the federal official told CBS. JetBlue spokeswoman Allison Steinberg told The Times she could not confirm those reports.

After the flight arrived in Amarillo at 10:11 a.m. CDT, the ill captain was taken to a medical facility, the airline said. Citing employee privacy concerns, Steinberg declined to release information on his condition or identity or say how long he had been flying with the airline.

The 135 passengers on board the plane were still in Amarillo Tuesday afternoon, awaiting another plane to take them to their final destination, said Steinberg, who is based in Long Island City, N.Y.

It was not clear when they would depart, she said.

"We don’t have any of that confirmed at this time," she said.

She said it was not clear whether anyone, including the half-dozen crew members, was injured during the incident but that "the customers deplaned safely at the airport."


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