The wife of JetBlue Airways Capt. Clayton Osbon, who was subdued by passengers while his plane was in flight last week, said the family is declining interviews, and they don't believe he intended to hurt anyone.
Connye Osbon asked the media to respect its privacy and said the family won't be granting any interviews or making any further public comments, according to the statement released yesterday by JetBlue on the family's behalf.
"We would like to recognize the crew and passengers of Flight 191 for their effective yet compassionate handling of the situation," the family's statement said. "It is our belief, as Clayton's family, that while he was clearly distressed, he was not intentionally violent toward anyone. We know you were placed in an awful situation and we appreciate your ability to respond professionally."
The captain began acting erratically during a flight that departed from JFK Airport on March 27.
Osbon was locked out of the cockpit by his co-pilot as the plane, JetBlue Flight 191, was diverted to Texas.
Osbon, 49, was tackled and sat upon by passengers when he tried to re-enter the cockpit after briefly stepping out, the company and federal officials said. An off-duty pilot, who had entered the cockpit while Osbon was gone, helped land the Las Vegas-bound flight in Amarillo, Texas.
Right now, Osbon is being evaluated and treated at Northwest Texas Healthcare System hospital in Amarillo. He faces as many as 20 years in prison after being charged with interfering with the plane's flight crew, U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldana said in a statement last week.
'Leap of Faith' sought
Osbon turned off the plane's radios, dimmed his monitors and told the first officer on board that "we need to take a leap of faith," according to court documents. After the plane left JFK, Osbon "started trying to correlate completely unrelated numbers like different radio frequencies, and he talked about sins in Las Vegas," according to court filings. "At some point, Osbon told the first officer, 'We're not going to Vegas.'" According to reports, Osbon's father died in a plane crash in 1995. Ronald Osbon died while piloting a small personal plane en route to Daytona Beach, Fla. Osbon reported losing power on both engines just before the crash.