JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater’s mother Diane, whose battle against lung cancer has reportedly been stressful for her son in recent months, has leaped to his defense – saying she might have behaved even more outrageously in his position.
“Nobody should be abusing anybody, and I understand why he snapped,” Diane, 75, herself a former flight attendant, tells the New York Post. “I would have snapped, too. In fact, I probably would have snapped more.”
Slater’s ex-wife, Cynthia Neithamer, said she was shocked by the dramatic, potentially criminal way in which Slater, 38, walked off the job Monday after an altercation with an allegedly abusive passenger – by grabbing a beer, activating the plane’s emergency exit, sliding down it, running off to his car and driving home.
Slater “has been a fantastic and devoted flight attendant,” Neithamer told the Post. “I’m just really surprised [at what he did] because he really loves his job.”
Neithamer’s grandfather, Harry, was blunt in his assessment of who was likely to blame. “That passenger must be a [expletive], just a pure [expletive], because nobody else could get him wound up like that,” he said.
Slater’s father, a former pilot for American Airlines, died more than a decade ago.
Slater, who was released from jail after posting bail Tuesday night, is starting to realize the full extent of his celebrity status.
“I think something about this resonated with people. The outpouring of support is very appreciated. I’m overwhelmed, very thankful,” he told reporters upon his release.
Slater had a bit of trouble getting home, as his livery car was swamped by the media and had to return to the jail temporarily. “The food was just too good,” Slater joked about why he returned.