Midair Scare: Update on Rio Rico man accused of trying to open emergency exit
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- New information on the Rio Rico man who is accused of trying to open an emergency exit during a flight from Alaska to Oregon.
23-year-old Alexander Herrera made his first court appearance Tuesday before a federal magistrate on a charge of attempted destruction of an aircraft. He did not enter a plea.
Frightening moments in midair as passengers on an Alaskan Airlines flight tackled Alexander Herrera after he tried to open an emergency exit.
Passenger Ryan Oelrich said, "I could see his face and he was very determined. He was trying to get that door open."
A criminal complaint released Tuesday stated Herrera told investigators he has been diagnosed as bipolar and had not been taking his medicine.
A statement his father, Bill Herrera, confirmed on the phone. "He did not like )the medication). He stopped the medication. He was acting normal. He did not have any more manias. Life was ok."
The complaint stated Herrera was polite at the start of the flight, but later made claims of being psychic.
Not surprising to, Dr. Ashok Nagella, Medical Director of the Southern Arizona Mental Health Clinic, who treats bipolar patients. "If someone is acutely manic they are at higher risk of being psychotic, which means they can be hallucinating and having delusional thoughts" often detaching from reality.
Dr. Nagella said bipolar people can behave impulsively. The criminal complaint stated Herrera asked a woman seated next to him, 'What would you do if I opened the exit door?'
Cavazos asked Dr. Nagella, "Do they intend to harm others or just through their actions they are dangerous to others?" He answered, "They many not have any intentions of harming others but because of their poor judgment at the time or delusional thinking they may act on them." Dr. Nagella said it's critical that bipolar patients continue treatment.
Residents we spoke to in Rio Rico know little - or nothing -- about Herrera. One resident who went to high school with Herrera described him as weird.
Herrera is now in jail -- waiting a detention hearing.