A Delta flight out of New York City was halted after a Florida couple traveling with a Great Dane puppy fled the aircraft with the pet using an emergency slide, an airline spokesman and authorities said Tuesday.
The incident involving Antonio Murdock and Brianna Greco occurred on Monday as the jet was leaving for a flight from LaGuardia Airport to Atlanta, said the spokesperson, Morgan Durrant.
Witnesses reported seeing a panicky Murdock force open the front cabin door and jump out using the emergency chute leading to the runway. He was quickly followed by Greco with the puppy in tow.
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Murdock, 31, and Greco, 27, were taken into custody on charges including criminal mischief and trespassing, among others. Authorities said Murdock was awaiting arraignment, while Greco was released on a desk appearance ticket. The dog was turned over to an animal shelter.
Prosecutors had no information on an attorney for Murdock.
Passenger Brian Plummer told The New York Times that before they exited the plane, the pair had changed seats several times on a flight that wasn't full. The man finally stood up and ignored a flight attendant’s order to take a seat for takeoff, telling the attendant that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, Plummer added.
“If I sit down, I’ll freak out,” the man said, according to Plummer.
The aircraft was forced to return to the gate where the remaining customers got off and were later put on alternate flights.
The incident recalled the 2010 case of Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant who activated a chute during a tantrum on a plane landing at Kennedy Airport. He went on the public address system, swore at a passenger who he claimed treated him rudely, grabbed a beer and slid down onto the tarmac.
Slater was sentence to a year of probation after completing a court-ordered treatment program.