Man Opens Plane Door, Climbs On Wing Before Flight To BWI Airport

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A man was hospitalized Sunday after climbing on the wing of a Baltimore-bound Southwest Airlines flight before departing Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans. A different Southwest plane is shown here at BWI Airport. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

Patch reporter Megan VerHelst wrote this story.

NEW ORLEANS, LA — A man was hospitalized Sunday after authorities said he opened an emergency exit and climbed onto the wing of a Southwest Airlines plane as it prepared to fly to Baltimore.

According to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, authorities were called to Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans shortly before 7:45 p.m. after the unidentified passenger used an emergency door to exit the plane as it waited to depart from the gate.

Authorities said the man was experiencing a mental health emergency when he climbed onto the plane's wing and jumped to the ground.

According to authorities, the man was detained by airport employees until deputies arrived. Upon arrival, authorities said deputies noticed the man was incoherent and "not fully aware of his surroundings."

The man — whom authorities said was 38 years old and from Atlanta — was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation, where he remained Monday, authorities said.

Authorities said they found no weapons on the man and there was no indication he left anything on the plane. No injuries were reported.

While the man was not expected to face charges, the case was turned over to federal authorities for additional investigation.

In a statement provided to USA Today, a Southwest Airlines spokesperson confirmed the flight was headed to Baltimore. The flight was canceled following the incident, according to the report.

“We commend our flight and ground crews for their swift action and apologize to our Customers for their inconvenience,” Southwest Airlines said in an email to the publication.

Patch has reached out to Southwest Airlines for additional comment.

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