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Passenger Arrested After Escaping Aircraft Through Emergency Hatch, Climbing Wings

Anastasia Boushee
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A Southwest Airlines passenger has been arrested after using an emergency hatch to escape an airplane — jumping onto its wing and then to the ground, leading to panic onboard the aircraft.

The incident took place at the Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner, Louisiana, on Sunday. At the time of the incident, the plane had not yet left the gate and was still parked at the terminal.

The passenger, who has only been identified as a 38-year-old man, was arrested on the tarmac while attempting to steal a service truck. He was initially caught by ground personnel at the airport, who held him until deputies arrived to take him into custody, according to a press release from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. No injuries occurred during the incident.

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“When deputies made contact with the man, they found he was incoherent and not fully aware of his surroundings,” the press release read.

Deputies have confirmed that the passenger was transported to a local hospital for evaluation, as they believed that he was suffering from a mental health emergency.

A video taken during the incident was shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, showing passengers panicking and rushing through the aisle of the airplane. One man could be heard on video expressing concern that the escaped passenger had “put something on the plane and jumped out the exit.

As passengers gathered at the gate and watched airport personnel capture the man and hold him on the ground, the person recording the video could be heard stating: “I never dreamed I’d be going through nothin’ like this.”

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The sheriff’s office has since confirmed that there “is no indication that the man left anything on the plane, nor was he found in possession of any weapons of any type.”

Southwest Airlines has also responded to the incident in a statement to NBC News.

“We commend our flight and ground crews for their swift action and apologize to our customers for their inconvenience,” the statement read.

The investigation has since been transferred to federal authorities, and the passenger is not expected to face criminal charges locally. The flight was canceled following the incident.

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