Alas, it’s not the glorious cell-phone video from inside the cabin that we’ve dreamed of, but since it’s Friday and this tool is nearing his 15th minute of fame, we might as well wring a few more drops of content from it. You’ll be pleased to know that he’s already rarin’ to get back to work. Just two small problems with that. One: The more passengers that investigators talk to, the more convinced they are that there was no angry confrontation at the end of the flight that led him to pop the emergency chute in frustration. Quote: “Officers involved in Mr. Slater’s arrest say when they arrived at his Queens home about an hour after he grabbed two beers and hit the chute that his eyes were blood shot, he smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet, the official said.”
Oh, and two: This guy might have been suffering from a somewhat serious head injury.
The whole incident apparently started when he confronted a woman trying to place a large and presumably heavy bag into the overhead compartment before take-off. During the ensuing altercation, Slater was hit in the head at some point and was seen bleeding from a gash in his forehead.
That was the point at which everything changed. Slater conducted the safety drill with his shirt unbuttoned, showing his belly. Passengers said he seemed disconcerted, dropping or throwing the oxygen mask demonstrator to the floor, prompting anxious laughter, according to the New York Daily News. During the flight, he banged into passengers, suddenly quit providing drinks and snacks before serving everyone and otherwise behaved oddly. Previously known as cheery (at least according to one passenger who has flown with him before, quoted here), he was abrupt. One passenger told the Daily News, “He was very disturbed. He was almost hysterical.”
All of these behaviors—impulsivity, clumsiness, confusion, disorientation, irritability, “out of character” behavior—can be head injury symptoms. When the brain gets hit, the outer regions that prevent people from doing things, like telling off customers, quitting work and activating the emergency slide to make a dramatic exit, are often the first to be affected.
Even worse, if it’s true that he was drinking during the flight, and if it’s also true that he’s a recovering alcoholic, then the booze could have magnified the wooziness from his head bump quite a bit. The million-dollar exit question: If this guy was bleeding from the head from the very start of the flight and giving the safety demonstration, er, bare-chested, why didn’t the rest of the crew pull him aside and tell him to take a nice, long break?