Unruly passenger forces Seattle flight diversion

Unruly passenger forces Seattle flight diversion
Photo taken by witness on board Flight 1050.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Delta airliner en route from Seattle to Atlanta made an unscheduled stop in Nashville after a disturbance on board.

Nashville International Airport spokeswoman Emily Richard says passenger Paul Marchuk III was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest by airport police.

A witness told KOMO News the man was taken off Flight 1050 by airport security after he apparently kept intruding, touching and talking to a passenger about the Bible.

"I was kind of waking up out of a sleep and noticed that two-three rows in front of me the flight attendant was leaning over talking to a gentleman with a stern voice saying, 'Sir, you really need to let this woman out, she needs to go to the bathroom,' " said Vanessa Maanao. "But he would not. He kept pushing his body on the woman who was sitting by the window -- he was in the middle seat."

Paul Marchuk III (Photo: Metro-Nashville Police Department)
"The man refused to let her go and other passengers had to come and intervene," she continued. "It took two to three gentlemen to hold him from behind so the woman who was pinned in could climb over the seat in front of her to get out and then move to the front of the plane."

Maanao said the man was taken from his seat into the aisle by 3-5 large male passengers until flight attendants were able to restrain him with plastic zip-ties.

"It was pretty scary at times, he was yelling, screaming," Maanao said. "Even though the woman was a stranger to him, he screamed out her name and said that he loved her and then began citing the Lord's Prayer really loud, screaming at the top of his lungs."

She says after he was restrained, he tried to bite people who were holding him, but he calmed down after they announced they were making an unscheduled stop in Nashville, adding the entire ordeal lasted about 30 minutes.

Maanao said the flight attendants' actions helped prevent the situation from getting worse.

"(They) handled it perfectly," she said. "I don't know how they maintained their calm and peacefulness.

"I don't think it could have gone any better considering what could have happened."

Maanao also wanted to give praise to the passengers who helped the flight attendants subdue the man.

"My sense of fear was diminished the more I saw passengers get up and be ready for anything," she said. "Some of these guys looked like linebackers so I was completely relaxed once I saw those guys stand up.

"It was nice to see heroes, in a small way, very much heroes."

Family members of Marchuk told ABC Alaska that he has Tourette's Syndrome and had been in Alaska for a two week visit to his stepmother. His stepmom told the station he began acting strange soon after he got there, threatened her and went out and punched things in the garage. Marchuk was on his way back to his birth mother and half-brothers in Georgia.

The Boeing 757 with 178 passengers and a six-person crew flew on to Atlanta where it landed some 1 1/2 hours late. No one was hurt.