The passengers and crew of Delta Flight 1102 on its way to Boston were given a scare Tuesday night when an apparently drunken passenger pulled a handle on one of the emergency exits in mid-flight.
The flight, which originated in Orlando, was about halfway to Boston when a man, visibly intoxicated and wearing a Boston Bruins jersey, pulled the emergency exit handle he was seated next to, passengers said after landing at Logan International Airport. The man was identified late Tuesday night as Robert J. Hersey, 43, of Arlington, said Massport spokesman Phil Orlandella.
Todd Varley, 21, of Hanson, said the incident occurred in the row directly behind him.
I actually saw him in Orlando and he asked me to go to the bar with him, Varley said. He was very intoxicated.
Varley said as soon as the man pulled the handle on the door, an alarm went off and a flight attendant came and escorted him to the rear of the plane, which was carrying 148 passengers and five crew members.
State Police and other law enforcement agencies responded to the airport and took Hersey into custody and charged him with interfering with a flight crew, and more charges may follow, State Police said in a statement Tuesday night.
Multiple passengers reported seeing Hersey in the airport bar in Orlando and said he was foul-mouthed and drunk.
Passenger Phil Tighe said flight attendants brought the disorderly man to the rear of the jetliner and seated him between himself and another man for the duration of the flight.
I had to sit next to him the whole ... flight," Tighe said. He was just a jackass. He was just a drunken guy.
Tighe said the man appeared lucid and told him, I goofed, I messed up.
Logan Airport received a report from Delta Airlines that a disorderly passenger had been stopped while attempting to open the emergency door on the Airbus 320 jetliner, Orlandella said. He said it was unclear why the passenger tried to open the door.
Delta said a passenger, who is a law enforcement officer, assisted crew members in dealing with the incident. The officer sat next to the passenger through the rest of the flight, Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott said.
When the plane landed at 10:19 p.m., several state troopers immediately boarded.
Jack Gantos, 59, of the South End, was seated in first class and said as soon as the plane landed, many of the passengers were trying to rush to the front. Gantos said he was not immediately sure what happened, but said the atmosphere was very tense.
You knew it was not good, Gantos said.
The captain had to order passengers back to their seats on two occasions before State Police boarded the plane, Gantos said.
Six troopers, some of the biggest guys Ive ever seen in my entire life, got on and went streaming to the back, Gantos said.
It appeared Tuesday night that all the passengers were taken off the plane before State Police removed the man from the airplane.
Stewart Bishop can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Neal Riley can be reached at email@example.com.
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more