LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- The Federal Aviation Administration said it is investigating why an air traffic controller started slurring her speech, then went silent, while working alone at McCarran Airport Wednesday night.
The incident caused confusion among pilots, who were trying to navigate their planes with hundreds of passengers on board.
FOX5 obtained a copy of the audio recording from that night. The incident happened during an overnight shift.
The FAA said the air traffic controller became incapacitated while on duty.
“Landing at possible... into Las Vegas...” an air traffic controller said in an audio recording.
At one point, a pilot asked the control tower, “Is there somebody else that knows what they’re doing?”
The controller replied, her speech still slurring. The pilot clarified that the controller gave him incorrect instructions.
About 10 minutes later, another pilot chimed in and asked if there’s anyone to talk to in the tower:
Controller: "Sorry, I’m choking a little bit."
Pilot: "I guess somebody is checking with the tower up there. Anybody else in operations? Is there something going on up there?"
Tower: "Our ramp controller just advised everybody to call their respective companies to find out what’s going on."
Pilot: "It should like someone walked in to ask her if she was okay."
Tower: "Everybody, just standby. I’m taking over now. I’ll be right back with you."
The conversation spanned about three minutes. At one point, the controller didn't answer at all. Instead, she can be heard coughing and clearing her throat.
Officials said another controller who was on break was called in to take over operations while paramedics responded.
Congresswoman Dina Titus was briefed on the incident, due to having a seat in the House Subcommittee of Aviation. Titus called the initial reports “deeply disturbing.”
“I’ve been briefed on the incident that occurred at the air traffic control tower at McCarran and am awaiting further details, but I find the initial reports deeply disturbing," Titus said in a statement. "The safety of travelers is of paramount concern and I will work the FAA and McCarran as this investigation continues to unfold.”
Officials have not released more details about the controller’s condition, but she is on administrative leave.
The agency now requires two controllers to be in the tower during busy hours.