April 1,2012 -- The family of Clayton Osbon, the JetBlue pilot who was wrestled to the floor following his bizarre rantings, today thanked the crew and passengers of the plane "for their effective yet compassionate handling of the situation."
"It is our belief, as Clayton's family, that while he was clearly distressed, he was not intentionally violent toward anyone," Connye Obson, Clayton's wife, said. "We know you were placed in an awful situation and we appreciate your ability to respond professionally."
The statement released today was the first from Osbon's family since the incident on Flight 191, and in it Connye Obson asked the public to respect his privacy.
Osbon's wife also expressed gratitude to "the kind and compassionate team of doctors and staff at Northwest Texas Healthcare System in Amarillo, as well as the many friends, coworkers, and loved ones who have reached out to us to wish Clayton well during this challenging time."
She added that while the family appreciated and understood "the public's interest in our family's current situation," neither Clayton nor his family would grant any interviews or make further statements.
"We hope you can empathize and understand that our focus completely surrounds Clayton's recovery and the path that lies immediately ahead," she said.
Osbon faces criminal charges following last week's mid-air incident in which he turned off the radios and began to dim the monitor in the cockpit, then ranted about Sept. 11 and yelled ominous instructions in the jetliner's cabin.
According to an FBI affidavit, "Osbon began talking about religion, but his statements were not coherent. The [first officer] became concerned when Osbon said 'things just don't matter.'"
"Osbon also yelled jumbled comments about Jesus, Sept. 11, Iraq, Iran, and terrorists," according to the criminal complaint filed against him. "He also yelled, 'Guys, push it to full throttle.'"
Osbon was subdued by at least five passengers after his co-pilot reportedly locked him out of the cockpit when he displayed potentially dangerous behavior. The flight from Kennedy Airport in New York was diverted to Amarillo, Texas.
On the ground, Osbon was taken off the plane in handcuffs and a wheelchair by Amarillo police. He is now in FBI custody.