Flight Attendant Sentenced 7 Years In Bathroom Fire
By Bill Goldston
December 18, 2011 - A former flight attendant with
Compass Airlines, Eder Rojas, 23, of Woodbury, Minnesota
was sentenced in United States District Court in Fargo,
North Dakota, Friday to more than six years in prison by
U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson for setting fire to
an airplane bathroom while in-flight.
addition he was ordered to pay back more than $100,000,
the bulk of the money to go to Compass Airlines for
damage to the bathroom and accommodations for
Prosecutors said prior to this flight Rojas was aboard
another Compass Airlines flight about five weeks before
that was forced to make an emergency landing in
Wisconsin because of a bathroom fire in which Rojas
helped put out the fire. Charges in this case have not
On September 26, 2011, Rojas, pled guilty before United States District Court Judge Ralph R. Erickson to a charge of setting an aircraft on fire. Rojas, pleaded guilty to setting fire to a Compass Airline approximately 35 minutes into the flight, which had originated in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 7, 2008.
originally scheduled for trial in September of 2008. He was
placed in a halfway house in Fargo pending trial. On the eve of
his trial, Rojas fled to Mexico. Rojas was returned to North
Dakota on August 3, 2011, through the efforts of the FBI and the
United States Marshals Service.
In a later
interview, Rojas admitted to FBI agents that he had
intentionally used a lighter to start the paper towels in the
rear bathroom of the aircraft on fire. Rojas indicated his
reason for starting the fire was that he was mad at the airline
for making him work on that route. However, Defense attorney
Richard Henderson disputed that claim on Friday and said Rojas
suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder and that his
client wanted to be a hero after setting the fire and then being
the one to put it out. "I don't think he understands what fully
motivated him to do this," said Henderson.
U.S. Attorney Brett Shasky said on Friday that Rojas could have
created a fireball on the Compass plane because of the oxygen on
board and it would have been one big boom. The pilot had
"visions of passengers on fire before that plane got to ground,"
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