American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"Flight" (2012)

 

Captain Whitaker Testifies Before the National Transportation Safety Board

 

NTSB Investigator Ellen Block: Mr. Whitaker, I want to talk about the days leading and hours leading up to the accident. But before I do, I want to remind you that you are under oath and that any testimony you give here today will be considered admissible in any subsequent hearings or criminal proceedings. Do you understand what that means?

Captain Whitaker: [Remains silent]

Ms. Block: Captain Whitaker, for the record I need you to verbalize your answer.

Captain Whitaker: Uh, yes, I'm sorry. Yes, I understand.

Ms. Block: On the three days leading up to the day of the accident -- Tuesday, October 11th, Wednesday, October 12th or Thursday, October 13th -- did you consume any alcohol or other intoxicating elements?

Captain Whitaker: No, I did not.

Ms. Block: On the morning of the accident, Friday, October 14th, did you consume any alcohol or ingest any chemicals or drugs that may have impaired your ability to perform your job?

Captain Whitaker: No, I did not.

Ms. Block: Mr. Whitaker, do you now or have you ever had a problem with alcohol dependency, alcoholism, or drug addiction?

Captain Whitaker: No.

Ms. Block: Okay, Mr. Whitaker, weíre about done. Due to the severe turbulence in the early part of the flight, you asked the flight crew to suspend the beverage service on the plane -- is that correct?

Captain Whitaker: Yes, that's correct. I suspended the drink service on the plane.

Ms. Block: Are you aware that our investigators found two single-service vodka bottles in the galley trash bin?

Captain Whitaker: Yes, I'm aware of that.

Ms. Block: There were 5 crew members on board that would have had access to the beverage trolley. Less than an hour after the accident, blood was taken from each
of these crew members -- yourself, First Officer Evans, flight attendant Margaret Thomason and, posthumously, from Camelia Satou and Katerina Marquez. A toxicology analysis was performed and three of these tests came back negative, one was disqualified for technical reasons, and one tested positive for alcohol. It registered a .17 blood alcohol level. Are you aware of that?

Captain Whitaker: Yeah, I -- I'm aware of it now.

Ms. Block: Mhm. Miss Marquez was not only a colleague, but you knew her outside of work -- is that correct?

Captain Whitaker: Outside of work...No, not really.

Ms. Block: Did you know Miss Marquez had a drinking problem?

Captain Whitaker: No, I did not.

Ms. Block: Did you ever see her drink to excess?

Captain Whitaker: No, I did not.

Ms. Block: Were you aware that she was twice treated for alcohol addiction -- the last time was 16 months ago and paid for by SouthJet Airlines?

Captain Whitaker: No, I did not.

Ms. Block: Is it your opinion that Katerina Marquez drank on that flight?

Captain Whitaker: Could you repeat the question?

Ms. Block: Is it your opinion that Katerina Marquez drank on that flight?

Captain Whitaker: Iím sorry. My what?

Ms. Block: Your opinion, Captain. Since her toxicology report is the only toxicology report that is admissible in this hearing, and she in fact tested positive for alcohol, is it your opinion that Katerina Marquez drank those 2 bottles of vodka on the plane?

Captain Whitaker: [Inaudibly mutters "God help me."]

Ms. Block: Iím sorry Mr. Whitaker, I couldnít hear you. What did you say?

Captain Whitaker: I said God help me.

Ms. Block: Yes, well, however, is it your opinion --

Captain Whitaker: Itís my opinion, Trina did not drink that vodka.

Ms. Block: Excuse me, Mr. Whitaker?

Captain Whitaker: She saved the boyís life. That's --

Ms. Block: Could you speak louder, Captain Whitaker?

Captain Whitaker: Trina Marquez did not drink the vodka! Because I drank the vodka.

Charlie Anderson: Objection!

Court Officer: Please -- be seated, sir.

Charlie Anderson: Mr. Whitaker misspoke!

Court Officer: Sir.

Captain Whitaker: I -- I drank the vodka bottles.

Charlie Anderson: Do you hear me? I said I object!

Court Officer: Please be seated, sir. This is not a courtroom.

Charlie Anderson: Well I object anyway!

Captain Whitaker: I drank the vodka bottles on the plane.

Ms. Block: Captain Whitaker, on the three nights before the accident, October 11th --

Captain Whitaker: October 11th, October 12th and 13th and 14th -- I was intoxicated. I drank all of those days. I drank -- in excess.

Ms. Block: On the morning of the accident --

Captain Whitaker: I was drunk. Iím drunk now. I'm drunk right now, Ms. Block. Because Iím an alcoholic.

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HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.