Southwest plane diverted after unruly passenger tries to open door midflight, witnesses say
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A man removed from a California-bound Southwest Airlines aircraft after he allegedly tried to open a door during flight was charged Monday with interfering with the crew.
The plane was diverted to Omaha, Neb., on Sunday, so that 23-year-old Joshua Carl Suggs could be removed after the incident happened about an hour into the flight. The flight with five crew members and 134 passengers then continued on to Sacramento and arrived safely about two hours behind schedule.
According to the complaint against the Sacramento man, Suggs twice refused to return to his seat, as instructed, before pushing his way past a flight attendant and trying to open a door. Several passengers helped restrain him.
Passenger Monique Lawler told KABC-TV after reaching her final destination in Los Angeles that the man acted strangely during the flight, and that at one point he came out of the bathroom soaking wet. She said when he went to the back of the cabin to try to pry open the door, a flight attendant screamed for help.
"Some gentleman just decided that he wanted us to visit the Lord today and ... open up the back hatch while we were all already up in the air," Lawler said.
The court documents said several passengers, including one law enforcement officer aboard, left their seats and helped subdue Suggs. Then Suggs was restrained and seated in a window seat next to the officer until the plane reached Omaha.
A doctor told KCRA-TV in Sacramento he was one of the passengers who tackled the man and helped restrain him.
"He was going to do bad things to the plane so it was pretty scary," Scott Porter said.
The passengers who helped subdue Suggs told officers his pupils were dilated and his speech was incoherent.
Officers from Omaha's Airport Police Department escorted Suggs off the plane after it landed.
Suggs is expected to appear in court Wednesday. Court records did not show an attorney for him Monday.