SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A teenage passenger was taken for a medical evaluation after he opened an emergency door on an airplane when it landed in San Francisco then slid down the wing to the tarmac, an official said Wednesday.
The teen was not injured during the Tuesday incident that occurred at San Francisco International Airport minutes after Copa Airlines Flight 208 arrived from Panama City, airport spokesman Doug Yakel said.
The teen — a U.S. citizen — was traveling alone and appeared to be in emotional distress during the flight, Yakel said. The teen’s name has not been released.
After jumping from the plane, he was held by an airfield construction crew until police arrived and arrested him.
Witnesses said the teen seemed fidgety and anxious throughout the seven-hour flight. He was already on the ground and running by the time passengers realized the door had been opened.
“It was as if he was like flying out, like it was really fast,” passenger Sophia Gibson told San Jose television station KNTV.
Copa Airlines said in a statement that emergency exits over wings are intended to be opened by passengers at lower altitudes to allow evacuations in emergencies.
It’s a violation of federal law to open the doors without an instruction from crew members.
Copa Airlines officials were not immediately available Wednesday for further comment.
Passenger Matt Crowder said people sitting near the exit row stood up and shouted when the boy jumped.
“They were yelling, ‘Tell the flight attendants. Relay the message back. The door’s open. Someone jumped off,'” Crowder told the television station. “It was pretty crazy.”
Passenger Isaac Rodrigues said a flight attendant used her body to block the gap where the door had been until the plane was at a gate.
“We were on the runway for about an hour,” Rodrigues said.
No other flights were affected, Yakel said.
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