When a passenger threw a male flight attendant and private nurse over two rows of seats on United Flight 144 from Seattle to Chicago, co-pilot Larry Lemons took matters into his own hands.
Lemons, a Fruitland, Idaho, man who played football for the College of Idaho, stands 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 245 pounds. He wrestled the passenger, Keith Ritter, and subdued him twice during the hour and 45-minute flight Thursday."People were terrified, a woman with a baby was hysterical," said Lemons, 45, a pilot with United for 20 years.
Because of the midair fracas above Idaho's Panhandle, the flight turned back to make an emergency landing in Seattle.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Ritter in Seattle. His exact age and address were unavailable, but he was described by witnesses as about 50 years old. Physicians said he was medicated during the flight.
On Friday, he appeared in U.S. District Magistrate Court in Seattle on a felony charge of interfering with a flight crew. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Lemons said the incident began when Ritter became irritated with others sitting around him and resisted efforts by his private nurse and other passengers to calm him.