Authorities on Tuesday took a 17-year-old boy into custody after he opened the emergency exit of a jet preparing to taxi at San Francisco International Airport, jumped onto the wing and dropped down to the tarmac, an airport spokesman said.
The jarring event unfolded at about 2:30 p.m. as Copa Airlines Flight 208 from Panama City was waiting to taxi to its arrival gate, according to a statement released by SFO spokesman Doug Yakel. Yakel added that the boy wasn't injured and appeared to have slid down the wing onto the tarmac.
Yakel said the plane was sitting on the taxiway, waiting for its gate, when the teen opened the emergency exit and jumped out.
According to Yakel, the teen was accosted by an airline construction crew and is now in police custody.
He also says that the teen was taken to a local hospital for a medical evaluation.
Passengers described a smooth and pleasant flight until suddenly they heard a noise.
"The whole door goes off. I start to hear some screams," says Maria Nauca, a passenger visiting from Peru.
Passengers say they didn't know what happened, but knew something was wrong when they saw light coming through the exit door.
Some took photos of the commotion with their cell phones.
"As soon as we landed, it popped open," says Anielka Ruiz, a passenger from San Bruno, "We saw the light coming though because all the windows were closed- so the light came in and we're like 'what happened?'"
This is the conversation between the air traffic controller and two pilots about this incident.
Tower: "Copa 208, go ahead."
Pilot: "Sir, we are in the cockpit and the flight crew told us that we have an over-wing exit that is open and a passenger trying to get off through the wing.. that's correct? Can you see that from the tower?"
Another Pilot: "1638, we can confirm that, there was a gentleman approximately on the Tango taxiway there, when we exited with no vest on."
Passengers told KTVU that there was not an announcement on the plane. They were delayed about 30 minutes and say several law enforcement officers got on the plane.
"They just told us to remain calm and be seated and they're checking to see what's going on," says Ruiz.
Yakel says the teen is a U.S. citizen and he was traveling alone. The Custom Border Protection is the lead agency handling the case.