Bury St Edmunds doctor caught up in ‘terrifying’ US flight which saw plane diverted

An American Airlines plane

An American Airlines plane

A Bury St Edmunds doctor was caught up in a ‘terrifying’ plane journey home from the USA today during which an aggressive passenger had to be sedated and restrained after attacking and threatening people on the flight.

Peter Leando’s wife, Rebecca, 43, was on a flight to Heathrow from Charlotte, North Carolina where she had been staying with family over Christmas.

Mr Leando, at home in Thurston, was first alerted that something was wrong when he received a text from his wife saying American Airlines had chosen to divert the plane back to Philadelphia.

“That was the first I knew about it and my wife was very frightened,” he recalled.

“You hear someone screaming and shouting on a plane and your first thought is terrorism.

“I immediately went online to track the flight and called the airline who confirmed that the plane had been diverted to Philadelphia while flying over Canadian waters but wouldn’t tell me any more than that.”

Mrs Leando was able to call her husband when the plane landed and she was still shaken, as were most of the passengers.

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Mr Leando added: “She told me that a woman on the plane had been jumping over seats, attacking people and shouting threats and being very aggressive and hyperactive.

“The cabin crew tried to sedate her but it didn’t work and she continued to jump around and was really frightening people.

“They sedated her again and had to restrain her using cable ties. My wife said it was all very upsetting.

“Cabin crew told my wife that the passenger was suffering a psychotic break as she hadn’t been taking her medication.

“Eventually she fell asleep and the plane was able to land in Philadelphia.”

A spokesperson for American Airlines said: “American Airlines flight 732 from Charlotte Douglas (CLT) to London Heathrow (LHR) diverted to Philadelphia (PHL) due to a disruptive passenger. Law enforcement met flight 732 on arrival at Philadelphia.”

The airline provided the passengers with hotel rooms to rest and an alternate flight to London this evening.

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