ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Sixty-three passengers on an American Airlines flight got a wild ride Tuesday morning with a New Mexican helping to calm a troubled passenger.
The flight from Albuquerque was heading to Chicago when the passenger started acting out. At one point, he tried to get off the plane in mid-flight.
Once safely on the ground in Chicago, a group of passengers breathed a sigh of relief, many feeling they averted a disaster after their scary flight with the unpredictable man.
"The stewardess came over and told him, "You need to be quiet. I've alerted the pilot, and if we need to land this plane we will,'" Karen Fuller, a passenger on the plane and Albuquerque resident said.
American Airlines Flight 3172 left the Albuquerque International Sunport at about 8 a.m. It was supposed to be a nonstop flight to Chicago O'Hare.
"He was just being very loud. He was throwing up and trying to smoke a cigarette with a lighter, and we didn't know what was going on," Fuller said. "It was very scary."
Fuller was sitting with her mother and law in the row in front of the man.
The 63 passengers and four crew members were on board a Bombardier CRJ-700. At one point, passengers say the man tried to reach for an exit.
That's when Kevin Mugan, a reserve deputy with the Valencia County Sheriff's Office, stood up.
"We weren't going to let the attendants handle it themselves," Mugan said. "We stayed out of it until he looked like he could get physical.
"We talked about it, and we said we'd take the guy down if that's what we had to do."
Eventually the man took his seat.
"We were just grateful when he was escorted off the plane. Everyone clapped." Fuller said.
The plane diverted to Kansas City landing there about 11:30 a.m. It finally touched down in Chicago just before 2 p.m. No one was hurt.
A spokesperson with the Kansas City International Airport says the man was interviewed by FBI agents after being removed from the plane. He was later released. Authorities have not released his name.
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