Coast-to-Coast Flight Diverted After Passenger Stripped, Tried
To Open Exit In Flight
Passengers aboard an American Airlines flight Friday afternoon
were treated to a bit of inflight drama – and unfortunately
it wasn’t the movie being shown on board.
American Airlines Flight 725 from Boston to Los Angeles was
diverted to Oklahoma City Friday afternoon after a disturbed
passenger took off his clothes, put them back on, and attempted to
open an emergency exit in flight before being restrained and
subdued by members of a Major League Soccer team. The Boeing 757
landed in Oklahoma City at 1335 Central Time where the passenger
was removed and the aircraft continued to Los Angeles an hour
"He was completely naked. I mean, he'd taken off his clothes,
sleeping across the three seats," said passenger David Pease who
was sitting next to the man to KNBC-TV in Los Angeles.
Luckily for the flight crew, members of the New England
Revolution professional soccer team who were aboard noticed the odd
situation and helped force the man to put his clothing back on.
"Craig Tornberg, our general manager, went over and said, 'You
know, you should go back in there and put your clothes on.' And
then the steward came over and forced him to go back in there to
put his clothes back on, which he did," said Vice President of the
New England Revolution Michael Burns to KNBC reporters.
Pease said that the man was clearly not right and was "saying
all types of things. Like, 'Well, I can't see you.'"
Burns noted the man was clearly emotional at times. "There were
times he was crying. There were times he was kind of laughing.
...It was very strange.”
"Then he sat back down in his seat, and then about five or 10
minutes later, when he got up again, and it appeared as though he
was going to the bathroom, but that's when he didn't and went for
the emergency exit door," Burns said.
Never thinking they’d need to use their aggressive soccer
moves off the field -- much less aboard an airliner -- the coach
and two staff members of the soccer team subdued the man and
"I made some eye contact with Matt Reis, our goalkeeper, and
Shalrie Joseph, our defensive midfielder, who are pretty tough
guys, and said, 'Just wait for us, cause we might need you,'" said
team general manager Craig Tornberg. "The adrenaline just kind of
takes over at the point, and you just kind of pounce. You just
react ... it's really anything that anybody would do at that
FBI spokesman Gary Johnson said tie wraps were placed on the
man's wrists at that point and he was restrained until on the
ground in Oklahoma City.
The man was removed from the aircraft and was undergoing mental
evaluation in Oklahoma City. His name was not released.
"He was pretty mild as far as a guy who was first, naked, and
the secondly, running for the door to jump out," Tornberg said. "If
he walked by you right now, you probably wouldn't notice, unless of
course he was naked."
The New England Revolution was flying to play Chivas USA as part
of the SuperLiga Tournament Sunday.