A 17-year-old boy opened the emergency door of a plane minutes after it landed here Tuesday, slid down the wing and jumped onto the tarmac, authorities said.
The teen, a U.S. citizen, was flying by himself from Panama City, Panama, to San Francisco International and appeared to be in emotional distress during the flight, said San Francisco Airport spokesman Doug Yakel.
An airfield construction crew working nearby confronted the boy and held him until police arrived and arrested him. He was not injured, Yakel said.
Passengers said the teen seemed fidgety and anxious throughout the flight, and acted so quickly no one had a chance to stop him.
Sophia Gibson, of San Jose, said people sitting next to him were shocked when he jumped out of the plane and onto the wing.
“It was as if he was, like, flying out, like, it was really fast,” Gibson told San Jose television station KNTV.
Matt Crowder, of Atherton, said people sitting near the exit row stood up when the boy jumped out and started to shout.
“They were yelling, ‘Tell the flight attendants. Relay the message back. The door’s open. Someone jumped off,’ ” Crowder told the television station. “It was pretty crazy.”
The Panama-based airline said in a brief statement that a crew member on Copa Airlines Flight 208 closed the door and the plane then taxied to the gate, where the other passengers got off the flight without incident.
But passenger Isaac Rodrigues said there was no door to close, so a flight attendant blocked the gap with her body as the plane continued to the gate.
“They put one of the stewardesses to block it so no one would fall out of there or leave,” he said. “We were on the runway for about an hour.”
No runways or other flights were affected, Yakel said.