US: Southwest Airlines passenger opens emergency exit, climbs on plane's wing

World Tuesday 28/November/2023 20:05 PM
US: Southwest Airlines passenger opens emergency exit, climbs on plane's wing

New Orleans : A man on a Southwest Airlines flight opened an emergency exit door and climbed onto the plane's wing on Sunday while the aircraft was at a gate at New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport, authorities said, CNN reported.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office said it responded to a disturbance at the airport after a 38-year-old man opened the emergency exit door to access the wing and jump out. The plane was stationary and had not departed the gate at the time of the incident, and the man was stopped by personnel on the ground and held until deputies arrived.

One of the passengers on the plane, Zed Webster, told CNN he heard what sounded like an argument between two passengers across the aisle from him and was concerned they might start a fight. He said he took out his phone and began to record the incident.

As soon as he pressed the record button, Webster said the passenger unlatched the lock to the emergency exit door and jumped out the window. "I was terrified," he said.

The passenger's video shows several passengers evacuating the plane and rushing through the jetway.

Later, the video shows what appears to be an airline employee jumping from the jetway onto the tarmac to assist colleagues in subduing the passenger.

When deputies made contact with the passenger on the tarmac, he appeared "incoherent and not fully aware of his surroundings," the sheriff's office said.

The man was "transported to a local hospital for evaluation as the deputies believed he was suffering from a mental health emergency," according to the sheriff's office statement, and he remains hospitalized.

"There is no indication that the man left anything on the plane, nor was he found in possession of weapons of any type. He is not expected to face any criminal charges locally, however, the investigation has been referred to federal authorities. No one was injured during the incident," the statement added.

A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines, Chris Perry, told CNN in an email, "We commend our flight and ground crews for their swift action and apologize to our Customers for their inconvenience."

After a delay, the flight departed using a different aircraft, according to Perry. Webster said the delay was about two hours and the flight arrived in Atlanta shortly before midnight.