A suicidal teenager caused panic onboard a commercial flight in Alaska when he made a lunge for the controls, sending the small plane into a nosedive.
Passengers, who according to an official statement believed they "were going to die" helped wrestle the controls of the plane back from the teen along with pilot Joshua Kerch, who was then able to steady the Cessna Caravan.
The would-be hijacker, identified as 18 year-old Jaden Lake-Kameroff, had apparently "asked the pilot to fly the plane earlier during the flight and initially asked to sit in the unoccupied copilot seat,” a spokesman for the Alaska state troopers told Anchorage News.
“Both requests were denied by the pilot.”
Other passengers of the five-seat Ryan Air flight reportedly restrained him for the remainder of the flight, which eventually arrived safely.
The incident occurred during the landing stage of the 90 mile flight between Bethel and Aniak, around five miles away from its destination at around 1,000 to 1,500 feet above the ground.
Lake-Kameroff allegedly told an Alaskan state trooper that he had attempted to end his own life and alluded to having spoken with behavioural health officials in the past.
He now faces charges of second-degree terroristic threatening, five counts of attempted first-degree assault and four charges of third-degree assault.
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McDaniel noted that dividers between the pilot and passengers were uncommon on small planes in Alaska.
Lee Ryan, President of Alaska-based Ryan Air, told KYUK that “our pilot relied on his training and professionalism," before citing the negative impacts incidents like this can have on the remote region.
"We rely so heavily on aviation in Western Alaska. There’s no roads, it’s the only way in and out," he said.
"And when a scenario happens like this, it’s very unfortunate for not only industry, but everybody — everybody in Western Alaska.”
Ryan added that although this was the first time a passenger had attempted to take the controls on a Ryan Air flight, the airline would look at ways to ensure such an incident would not happen again.
Federal authorities are reported to have been informed about the incident.
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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