California flight diverted after man tries to open door mid-flight

Posted April 14, 2014, at 2:35 p.m.
Last modified April 14, 2014, at 7:13 p.m.

A Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago to Sacramento was rerouted to Omaha, Neb., after a passenger tried to open a cabin door during flight, authorities said Monday.

The Sunday flight set down at the Eppley Airfield after an unruly passenger, identified as Joshua Carl Lee Suggs, pushed past a flight attendant and tried to open one of the rear doors while the plane was flying, according to papers filed by the Nebraska U.S. Attorney’s Office in federal court.

“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,” said Monique Lawler who was on the flight, according to an interview with KABC-TV in California.

The incident occurred about an hour after the plane departed from Chicago on Sunday morning, around the time the flight attendants had finished their initial beverage service, the complaint said. Suggs refused to take his seat after the “fasten seat belts” sign turned on, saying that he “wanted to look out the window.”

As Suggs rushed to the rear of the plane, nearby passengers jumped out of their seats and wrestled him into submission, the complaint said. Two of the passengers reported that Suggs continued to resist, that his pupils were dilated and he was speaking incoherently.

Suggs was taken into custody by the Omaha Airport Authority Police Department without further incident.

The five crew members and 134 passengers arrived safely in Sacramento, Calif., about two hours behind schedule, Southwest Airlines said in a statement.

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