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Investigators reveal new details on life of co-pilot behind Germanwings crash

While definitive answers remain elusive, new information emerged Saturday about the young co-pilot who authorities believe deliberately flew a Germanwings airbus into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board. For the latest, Jack Ewing of The New York Times joins Hari Sreenivasan via Skype from Montabaur, Germany, where the co-pilot was from.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR ANCHOR:

    While definitive answers remain elusive, new information emerged today about the young co-pilot who authorities believe deliberately flew a Germanwings Airbus into the side of a mountain in the Alps. All 150 people on board were killed.

    For the latest, we are joined by Jack Ewing of "The New York Times". He joins us tonight via Skype from Montabaur Germany, where the copilot was from.

    So, what do we know today?

  • JACK EWING, THE NEW YORK TIMES:

    Good afternoon.

    The latest, as my colleague Nicola Clark in Paris has determined, he had sought treatment for vision problems some time before the crash. So, that suggest that's perhaps his ability to fly was in question, and perhaps gives us some idea what his motivation might have been. And he had concealed this from his employer.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    And we've got these reports that perhaps his long-term relationship ended just the day before this crash?

  • JACK EWING:

    I've seen that speculation. I haven't been able to confirm it myself. We know he had a girlfriend. What the status of the relationship was — you know, whether there was any problems, I haven't been able to determine that with certainty.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    So, the doctors' notes that he had. Did that include the day of this crash? I mean, was he basically supposed to stay home or had an excuse to stay home from the doctor for whatever the medical reason was?

  • JACK EWING:

    Yes, that's my understanding. In Germany, the way the system works, if a doctor gives you one of these certificates, you're supposed to stay home. You're obligated to stay home and you should inform your employer about that. And it seems that he did not do that.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    There was also a report today that the girlfriend had said that he at some points woke in the middle of the night and said, "One day, I'll do something. My name will be known forever."

  • JACK EWING:

    Yes. Well, this is coming from what is called the "Bild" site, a German tabloid newspaper. I would take that with a grain of salt — grain of salt. They don't say who this person is and we have no way of really knowing how credible that account is.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    What's the state of the investigation now?

  • JACK EWING:

    Well, I think the– both the French and the German authorities are going through material that they've seized from his apartment in Dusseldorf, and, apparently, also from his parents' house here in Montabaur, and they're trying to determine what his motivation might have been, you know, what — when he knew about these conditions that he had, and how much he had told the Germanwings and Lufthansa, his employers.

    So, they're just trying to determine the whole sequence of things and find out as much as they can about why he might have done this terrible thing.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Jack, you've been looking into the life of this copilot. What more you have learned?

  • JACK EWING:

    Well, the one thing that you get over and over again when you talk to people about him is they say he seemed very normal. He was friendly. He fit in pretty well. He wasn't a loner.

    At the same time, he was pretty reserved. He wasn't somebody that stood out. And you keep hearing that over and over again, that he was very normal. The one thing that stood out was that he extremely passionate about flying. That was really his big thing.

    And he started when he was 14 here in Montabaur, learning how to fly a glider. And I talked to the president of the glider club today and all they remembered was he was very motivated to fly and they say they had no inkling that anything like this would ever happen.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right. Jack Ewing of "The New York Times" joining us via Skype from Montabaur, Germany, where the co-pilot was from — thanks so much.

  • JACK EWING:

    You're welcome.

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