American Airlines flight to Chicago diverted for unruly passenger

INDIANAPOLIS (WLS) -- American Airlines Flight 1284 from Miami to Chicago was diverted to Indianapolis Monday afternoon because of an unruly passenger on board. The female passenger was arrested and charged with battery with injury, battery without injury, battery of a public safety officer, criminal recklessness, disorderly conduct and disruption the operation of an aircraft.

An Indianapolis Airport Authority spokesman said the woman became unruly on the flight near the Indiana/Kentucky border so the decision was made to divert the flight.

"She was disoriented through the entire flight, not being able to find her seat, walking back and forth," said Marian Frendt, a passenger on AA1284. "And when she came to the back, she was sweating profusely."

Witnesses said the woman's behavior grew more erratic as the flight went on.

"You could hear someone screaming expletives in the back repeatedly," passenger Jim Saviano said.

"Then she started kicking the seat of the passenger in front of her, and he apparently turned around to complain," said Frendt. "And she hit him."

Passengers said at that time a flight attendant took the woman to the back of the plane.

"She was trying to talk the girl down," Saviano said. "She seemed really calm. She was talking about her boyfriend. And then, all of a sudden, she grabbed [the flight attendant] by the face, kissed her and then punched her in the face."

That's when fellow passengers said the pilot came over the intercom asking them to help restrain her.

"He just said large men," Saviano said. "He said I need large passengers to restrain another passenger. So when I hear 'large passenger,' I'm thinking something big is going down."

Darnell Wilson of Chicago said he and three other passengers helped.

"She was on the ground," Wilson said. "She wouldn't stand up. She kept hollering that she was going to mess herself, like she was cursing people out. It was really absurd."

The airport spokesman said the passenger was removed from the aircraft and taken into custody by airport police. She was then picked up by the Marion County Sheriff's Office and taken to Marion County Jail.

The disruption caused passengers to arrive about 90 minutes late to Chicago. Authorities have not released the name of the woman who's been charged. Passengers say that flight attendant needed an ice pack for her face but was otherwise unhurt.
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