SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - A confrontation involving two passengers turned around a San Francisco-bound flight back to Los Angeles on Sunday night.
Southwest Airlines flight 2010 departed from the Los Angeles International Airport for San Francisco at 10:32 p.m. However, a "rapidly escalating situation" involving two passengers caused the aircraft's captain to declare and emergency and divert back to LAX in order to allow police to access the cabin, according to Southwest spokesman Dan Landis.
"Hey, the flight attendant just called. Evidently we have two passengers that are in a physical altercation, so we need to get turned around back to LAX," the pilot is heard saying in radio communications from the flight.
Bay Area DJ Mark Curry, a radio personality on 102.9 KBLX, was one of the passengers aboard Flight 2010 bound for SFO. He told KTVU he was asleep and woke up to a commotion.
"Everybody screaming! It was [pandemonium]," said Curry. "I didn't know what was going on. I thought it was a terrorist attack."
But it was a woman who claimed that, when she leaned her seat back, it enraged the passenger behind her. The woman said the man tried to choke her and hit her in the head.
"The flight attendants got up and they asked me, 'Would you restrain this guy?' I was like, 'Yeah!' You know, I was telling 'em before, 'We at 30,000 feet. I will beat you down.'”
Curry says no one wanted to talk to the man because they were afraid of agitating him.
"He didn't look like the kind of guy who did that. I think he shocked his own self," said Curry. "He was probably having a bad day."
The plane arrived back at the airport thirteen minutes after its original departure. Once at the gate, law enforcement officers responded, Landis said.
One passenger was removed from the flight and did not travel on to San Francisco, Landis said.
After the man was escorted off, the woman refused to press charges.
So far no arrests or charges have been made, and the FBI is continuing to interview witnesses and investigate the incident, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.
The remaining 136 passengers of the plane switched planes but arrived at the San Francisco International Airport five hours after their scheduled arrival, Landis said.
The flight resumed at 12:21 a.m. and arrived at SFO at 1:48 a.m., according to the SFO website.