Compass Airlines Flight Attendant Sentenced 7 Years In Bathroom Fire


  Bookmark and Share

Compass Airlines 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.  

In 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 passengers. 

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 been filed.  

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.

Rojas was 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. The plane was traveling to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, and carrying approximately 72 passengers and four crew members. Rojas was working as a flight attendant on the plane. The aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in Fargo, North Dakota. 

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. 

Assistant 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," said Shasky. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson said "It could have been an unmitigated disaster, really, that's all I can say about the offense. The real issue is do we get him the psychiatric help he needs."


Judge Erickson said "you ran away, you had to be extradited. I'm not going to reward that behavior today, tomorrow, or ever." Rojas tearful in court said he was sorry for what he had done and would accept any punishment given. "It was selfish of me. I was just thinking of me, myself and I. I hope the passengers can forgive me for what I did." 

Other News Stories (For the latest news please checkout our home page)


blog comments powered by Disqus  
Home Aviation News Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Upcoming Events Links To Other Sites General Aviation Helicopters Medical Factors Facing Pilots
Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Sea Planes Editorials
 ?AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News                                          Bookmark and Share


AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator