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A Southwest Airlines passenger opened an emergency exit and climbed onto the wing of a plane while the plane was at the gate.


A man aboard a Southwest Airlines flight opened an emergency exit door and climbed onto the plane’s wing Sunday while the plane was at a gate at Louis International Airport Armstrong of New Orleans, authorities said.

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 gain access to the wing and jump. The plane was stationary and had not left the gate at the time of the incident. The man was arrested by ground staff and detained until police arrived.

Passenger Zed Webster told CNN he heard what sounded like an argument between two passengers across the aisle and was concerned they might start a fight. He said he took out his phone and began recording the incident.

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

Webster’s video shows several passengers evacuating the plane and rushing to the jetway. Later, the video shows what appears to be an airline employee jumping from the jetway onto the tarmac to help his colleagues subdue the passenger.

When officers 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 because officers 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,” the statement continued. “He is not expected to face criminal charges locally, but the investigation has been referred to federal authorities. No one was injured during the incident.

Chris Perry, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines, told CNN in an email: “We commend our flight and ground crews for their quick action and apologize to our customers for the inconvenience caused.” »

After a delay, the flight took off with another plane, according to Perry. Webster said the delay was about two hours and the flight arrived in Atlanta shortly before midnight.

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