Hererra says he wasn’t on his proper medication when he tried to open the exit door during the flight from Anchorage to PDX.
Lance Risser of Eugene says the red eye flight started off relaxed but ended with his nerves wracked after Herrera allegedly tried to open the emergency exit door to their plane at 30,000 feet.
Risser got to work in Eugene around 5 a.m. Tuesday, exactly 24 hours after he landed in Portland after the most frightening flight of his life.
“It was a red eye that left at 12:55. I went to sleep and was planning on sleeping the whole way back because I was beat,” Risser said.
But Risser’s rest didn’t last long.
“I wake up to somebody screaming ‘Help! Help!’ in the back of the plane. There’s like four big Alaskan dudes who grabbed this guy, throw him on the floor and they’re screaming, ‘He was trying to open the emergency exit door!’” Risser said.
Risser says the cabin was in a panic. Some people were crying. Flight attendants tried to calm passengers and Herrera while the group of men took life-saving action.
“They like tackled him to the ground, they sit on top of him, and they’re holding him down for close to ten minutes while they try to find something to tie his arms and legs up with,” Risser said.
The men resorted to shoe laces and demo seat belts. That came in handy along with the locks on the emergency exit doors, which are likely the reason Hererra was unsuccessful.
“Alaska Airlines says they have them locked in case of an emergency and then push a panic button and then you can open them, so luckily he couldn’t get them open,” Risser said.
A safety feature Risser is thankful for the morning after the ordeal, but it’s an experience he says he will never forget.
“I’m just thankful that those guys were there. If they weren’t there to grab him and he was able to get that door off, the plane could have crashed and we all could have died. But I’m still going to fly. It’s just scary. I’m glad they keep those doors locked. I’m a little more confident that nobody can get those doors open but still a little scary,” Risser said.
Risser says people sitting next to Hererra said he was asking strange questions during the flight, but Risser didn’t hear what the questions were.