Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Fri May 29 2015

Flight Returns to Gate at SFO Airport After Passenger Pens Suicide Note

Impacting Travel | Patrick Clarke | May 29, 2015

Flight Returns to Gate at SFO Airport After Passenger Pens Suicide Note

An Austin, Texas-bound Virgin America flight was forced to return to the gate at San Francisco International Airport this week after the flight crew was alerted to a passenger exhibiting disturbing behavior prior to takeoff.

According to Doyle Murphy of the New York Daily News, a passenger was witnessed aggressively drafting a suicide note that stated he planned to harm himself and others.

"He started writing extremely fast — with anger," passenger Vicki Riffe, who alerted the crew to the man's behavior, told the Daily News. "I was scared to death."

Once the plane returned to the gate, police boarded the flight and took the man into custody.

"The guest in question was escorted off the aircraft at SFO and evaluated by medical professionals," said Virgin America in a statement via the Daily News.

Bomb-sniffing police canines searched the plane before it was cleared for a second attempt at takeoff. Nonetheless, more than a dozen of the 100-plus passengers aboard the flight opted to deplane following the scare. 

After being detained, the man was eventually handed over to San Mateo health officials for evaluation. 

A Transportation Security Administration spokesperson told the Daily News that the man had cleared a security checkpoint prior to boarding and therefore was unarmed. Still, the passengers who opted to remain on the flight were thankful for the awareness and poise Riffe and others displayed.

"The woman who called the man out was amazing," passenger Eric Berg told the Daily News. "And the captain of the plane, someone needs to give that guy some props. He handled it amazingly well."

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