Thirty-five passengers were about to takeoff when a man lunged for the door and tried to get off the plane. Several reports indicate the passenger suffered a panic attack, although others are taking more of a ‘wait and see” approach.
Jeff Backus is back for day two at Capital Region International Airport. He was enroute to Detroit Sunday evening when a panicked passenger forced a nearly three-hour delay.
“The gentleman kept getting more and more irate,” says Backus. “He kept mumbling and saying prayers. He was unresponsive and kept trying to get off the airplane.”
Backus was sitting right next to the passenger in the first row. He says the man seemed upset and jittery.
“He was in his young 20s, a smaller guy, so he was quite nervous and shaken, and I don't know if he was upset afraid to fly or what,” Backus says.
Delta flight 3679 was originally scheduled to depart at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. But bad weather in Detroit caused a 45-minute delay.
“During that time, he kept trying to get off the plane 3 or 4 times, he kept lunging for the door,” Backus says. “A couple of us had to physically restrain him in his seat and keep his seatbelt on and hold his hands down so he couldn't get off the plane.”
“The flight crew determined to go back to the terminal building and had airport police escort him from the plane,” says Robert Selig, Executive Director of Capital Region Airport Authority.
According to Selig, the man was not arrested but detained by the FBI and airport police. Backus was worried for his safety but tried to maintain a level-head.
“You just never know what could happen. What he could smuggle on. I think most of us were watching his shoes to make sure nothing was going to happen. But it worked out okay,” Backus says.
Both airline and airport officials tell us the incident is still under investigation.