Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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Man captured after New Orleans tarmac hatch escape, dramatic runway struggle caught on video

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Airport workers tackled a man who authorities say popped open an emergency escape hatch on a Southwest Airlines flight Sunday, climbed out onto the wing and was tackled on the tarmac at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

A video clip circulating online shows confused fellow passengers discussing the incident as they deplane – and then shows the man struggling with baggage workers outside a pickup truck below the terminal.

“There he is, oh my God, there he is,” a surprised traveler can be heard saying as chaos plays out on the other side of a floor-to-ceiling glass window. 

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Airport workers wrestled him to the ground near the open passenger-side door, then pinned him down.

According to a pair of TikTok videos shared by passengers on the plane, travelers panicked that he may have put an “object” down before leaving through the hatch, prompting a few moments of chaos. 

An airport spokesperson described the incident as an “unauthorized deplaning” and told Fox News Digital that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office responded. However, the man was taken to a hospital for evaluation and had not been arrested or charged with a crime as of Monday morning, a sheriff’s spokesperson said.

“There was an incident in which a passenger opened an emergency exit and got onto the wing while the plane was still at the skyway and had not pushed back,” Jefferson Parish Public Information Officer Sgt. Brandon Veal told Fox News Digital. “The plane was not moving at the time. He was caught on the tarmac, and transported to a local hospital for evaluation.

“There have been no criminal charges at this time, however, the investigation has been referred to federal authorities. The passenger was not arrested.”

His identity has not been released.

The incident delayed fellow passengers trying to depart for Atlanta Sunday at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend – one of the busiest travel days of the year – for about three hours, flight records show.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration predicted this past weekend would set a record for the most flying passengers.

The medium-sized airport is 11 miles outside downtown New Orleans, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

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