Alaska News

‘He had crap everywhere’; strange behavior diverts flight to Anchorage

A 22-year-old man who smeared feces in two airplane bathrooms was taken to a hospital after causing an international United Airlines flight to divert to Anchorage, according to local police.

At 4:40 p.m. Thursday, police at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport got a call about a disruptive passenger on board United Airlines Flight 895, which was en route from Chicago to Hong Kong, said Lt. Joe Gamache with Airport Police and Fire.

When the flight landed at 6:30 p.m., it was met by Anchorage police officers, the FBI, Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Gamache said.

According to passengers interviewed by KTVA Channel 11, the man, who had been recently released from jail and was en route to Vietnam, spit food, poured drinks on the floor and wiped feces on the walls of the bathroom.

"It was quite a sight," one passenger told KTVA. "He had crap everywhere. I was able to see inside as they were talking him out. He was stuffing his shirt in the toilet then wiping it on the walls. I don't know if he was trying to wipe crap on or wipe it off. He was shirtless and his shirt was beyond wearable again."

A flight attendant pointed to the man, who was sitting shirtless in his assigned seat, Gamache said.

The 22-year-old man was handcuffed and taken off the plane without incident, Gamache said. He was taken to a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol area in the Anchorage airport's north terminal.

The man had a Vietnamese passport with a permanent U.S. resident card, Gamache said. A translator was called in to assist with communication. Gamache did not know what language the man spoke.

"The interpreter said that the male's responses were unintelligible or didn't make sense," Gamache said.

The man "seemed to be having a mental issue," Gamache said.

The man was taken to Alaska Regional Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, said Staci Feger-Pellessier, spokeswoman for the FBI in Anchorage.

"There was no indication it was terrorist-related at all," Feger-Pellessier said.

Gamache didn't know whether the man was still at the hospital Friday.

Gamache said that since the man didn't harm anyone or cause damage beyond the mess, "it was determined that there were no appropriate criminal charges."

But the U.S. attorney's office for the District of Alaska said the final determination on whether to file charges hadn't yet been made, wrote spokeswoman Chloe Martin.

Gamache didn't know where the flight was on its route when it diverted to Anchorage, or where in the cabin the man was seated.

The Anchorage airport usually sees two or three diverted flights land a month, Gamache said, but most are related to medical issues.

United Airlines said in a statement that "(w)e provided hotel accommodations for our customers and they continued their journey to Hong Kong this afternoon."

United declined to say whether the man had continued to Hong Kong, saying, "We do not provide information about our customers."