Two men traveling aboard a Delta flight from Portland, Maine, to Atlanta are being hailed heroes after successfully detaining a belligerent passenger making disturbing threats. One of the men is saying it “all happened for a reason.”
James Tunnell and his girlfriend Ashley Decker were together on Delta Flight 1249 on Thursday when an unruly man in the back of the cabin started causing quite a bit of commotion, leading Tunnell to jump into action.
In an interview with Faithwire, the former corrections officer said he knew immediately the passenger “needed to be restrained,” so he reacted.
“I was a little scared,” Decker said, noting that she is originally from New York. “9/11 went to the forefront of my mind, of course.”
But within moments, Tunnell and another passenger — a member of the U.S. Coast Guard — were able to detain the man. Tunnell said he and the other man “stood over” the threatening passenger for the remainder of the journey, nearly two hours.
Tunnell, when asked if he felt he and Decker were on that flight for a reason, said they were “definitely meant to be there.” As it turns out, the pair were waiting on standby at the airport terminal when three passengers didn’t show up for the Atlanta-bound flight, opening up seats for them in the airplane.
“I’m happy I was there,” he said. “I’d like to think someone would’ve acted at some point, but I’m glad I was there because something needed to be done quickly and we were 32,000 feet off the ground.”
Decker said she is “absolutely proud” of Tunnell and his successful effort to safely restrain the unruly traveler, adding she’s “not ever scared” when she’s with him.
So far, no details have been released about the detained passenger, whom Tunnell said appeared to be intoxicated. Despite the trouble he caused, though, Tunnell said he wishes nothing but the best for him.
“I hope they take care of him and get him proper help,” he said.
Carly Hoilman contributed to this story.