The off-duty pilot accused of trying to crash an Alaska Airlines flight wouldn't get anti-depressants because he was scared of losing his job, his wife said

  • An off-duty pilot accused of trying to crash a plane refused to take antidepressants, his wife told NYT.

  • Joseph Emerson didn't want to take anything more than allergy pills because he was afraid of losing his job, his wife said.

  • He's facing 83 counts of attempted murder over the incident.

An off-duty pilot facing attempted murder charges after being accused of trying to crash a plane had refused to get antidepressants because he was afraid of losing his job, his wife told The New York Times.

"His pilot career was his life," Joseph Emerson's wife, Sarah Stretch, told The Times. "This kid, since he was 11 years old, wanted to be an airline pilot."

Stretch said that she'd spoken to her husband about taking medication but he didn't want to take anything more than allergy pills.

Insider's Michelle Mark previously reported that airline pilots avoid getting mental health treatment because flying regulations often ground them if they're getting help.

Joe LoRusso, an aviation attorney, told Insider that many pilots choose to suffer rather than risk losing their ability to fly while navigating Federal Aviation Administration-mandated medical evaluation process.

Emerson is accused of trying to shut down the engines of an Alaska Airlines flight while he was seated in the cockpit.

Moments before he tried to pull two red fire handles and cut off fuel to the engines, Emerson admitted to two pilots in the cockpit, "I'm not OK," court documents allege.

The California-bound flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Oregon after the incident, prosecutors say.

Emerson is now facing 83 felony counts of attempted murder, as well as federal charges. He's pleaded not guilty to the charges and said that he didn't mean to hurt anyone.

Emerson told the New York Times in an interview that he'd consumed psychedelic mushrooms two days before the incident.

Emerson said the trip was during a weekend getaway with his friends to commemorate the death of his best friend, The New York Times reported. The Times reported that the loss prompted Emerson to seek help for mental health issues.

Emerson said in the interview that he was convinced he was dreaming and that trying to crash the plane would jolt him awake.

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