The Chicago-to-Sacramento flight was diverted to Omaha, NE, after a passenger attempted to open a door mid-flight, KABC-TV in Los Angeles reports.
“Some gentleman just decided that he wanted us to visit the Lord today, and decided to open up the back hatch of Southwest Airlines flight while we were already up in the air,” one passenger, who captured the scene on her cellphone told the TV station.
According to the passenger the man had been acting strangely since the beginning of the flight. At one point he went to the restroom and returned to his seat soaking wet.
“He got up and went to the rear of the plane and tried to open up the hatch,” the woman says. “One of the airline stewardess just started screaming as well as passengers screaming help.”
That’s when a group of male passengers jumped into action by subduing the man until the plane could make an emergency landing.
One of the men who helped contain the unruly passenger at first though there was a medical emergency.
“He was going to do bad things to the plane, so it was pretty scary,” the man told KCRA 3. “We basically tackled — I don’t want to say ‘gentleman,’ – but the guy who was back there and then pinned him down. I got the sense he was probably on some sort of drugs or that he was psychotic.”
Upon arriving in Nebraska, police and TSA agents boarded the plane and escorted the man off. It’s unclear if the suspect faces any charges or if drugs or mental illness played a factor in the incident.
The plane landed safely in Sacramento about two hours behind schedule.