HONOLULU (KHON2) — A Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant was assaulted by a passenger on Thursday morning, Sept. 23, on flight HA 152, causing the flight to divert back to Honolulu. The flight departed Honolulu for Hilo at 7:30 a.m.
The plane turned around about 15 minutes into the flight.
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A passenger who sat nearby, who wants to remain anonymous, said the flight attendant was passing out beverages and made his way back down the aisle when another passenger allegedly jumped up and punched the flight attendant.
The witness said three passengers jumped up, and the male passenger sat back down and did not move until sheriffs took him off the plane in Honolulu. In the video sent in by the witness, passengers can be heard identifying the suspect, as well as sheriffs asking passengers what happened.
A spokesperson for Hawaiian Airlines said the incident was unprovoked, un-triggered and not mask-related.
Another passenger, Bill Paris, was sitting in the back of the plane when he noticed people around him looking toward the front of the aircraft.
“I didn’t see the actual incident, but according to the flight attendant that was near us and other people who saw it, this man who was sitting on the left side of the plane punched the flight attendant twice,” he said.
Authorities have not said what provoked the man to assault the flight attendant.
Courtesy Bill Paris
“One of the flight attendants said we just need to get him off the plane,” Paris explained. “We can’t go to Hilo with him still on board. It was shocking, I think, to everybody on the plane because it’s not something that you expect to see on a neighbor island flight.”
Authorities arrested a 32-year-old man for third-degree assault, and the case has been turned over to federal authorities.
Hawaiian Airlines said the flight attendant is shaken up but doing OK.
Courtesy Gay Island Guide
We apologize to our guests for the inconvenience and appreciate their cooperation,” said a HA spokesperson.
The incident is currently being investigated, and the aircraft departed Honolulu for the second time at 9:09 a.m. — with a 10:03 a.m. scheduled arrival in Hilo.
Meanwhile, Hawaii U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, released a statement following the HA flight 152 incident on Thursday morning.
There should be zero tolerance for this kind of despicable attack.”Hawaii U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz
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“This attack is reprehensible,” Schatz said. “I’ve been in direct contact with Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has assured me that this incident will be fully investigated by the FAA. The assailant must be held accountable and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.