By The Associated Press
AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — A JetBlue flight bound for Las Vegas landed unexpectedly in Texas on Tuesday after the captain was taken ill, the airline said. A passenger said a man she and other passengers believed was the captain began yelling about a bomb and had to be restrained.
JetBlue Airways said in a statement that the captain of Flight 191 from New York had a “medical situation” and that the pilot in command of the aircraft elected to land in Amarillo about 10 a.m.
Heidi Karg, a passenger on the flight, told CNN that she heard a lot of commotion. She said a man was trying to get into the cockpit, shouting “I need the code, gimme the code, I need to get in there.” The pilot urged for someone to restrain him, she said.
“We heard the word `bomb,’” Karg said. “We didn’t know exactly what was going on.”
Karg said she thought the man was the captain of the flight but that she wasn’t certain. Some male passengers wrestled him to the ground.
An off-duty captain who just happened to be a passenger on the flight went to the flight deck and took over the duties of the ill captain “once on the ground,” the airline said in a statement. It didn’t elaborate.
Shane Helton, 39, of Quinlan, Okla., said he saw emergency and security personnel coming on and off the plane as it sat on the tarmac at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.
“They pulled one guy out on a stretcher and put him in an ambulance,” said Helton, who went to the airport with his fiancée to see one of her sons off as he joined the Navy.
Helton said the ambulance then sat on the tarmac next to the plane for more than 30 minutes.
JetBlue said the ill captain was taken to a medical facility in Amarillo.