United Plane On Its Way From Boston To LA Was Nearly Hijacked? 

A passenger aboard United Flight 2609 was allegedly caught tampering with the emergency escape safety and, at one point, lunged at and attacked a flight attendant with a broken spoon. The passenger's motivations are still being investigated.

By Iqra Butt | Updated

plane dirty airplane cabins ExpressJet airlines airplane bunk beds best airline united

A passenger on Sunday’s United Airlines flight 2609, traveling from Los Angeles to Boston, attempted to open an emergency exit door and when a flight attendant noticed, the passenger attacked the flight attendant. The suspect is currently under investigation regarding his intentions for the flight.

Francisco Severo Torres, 33, attempted to open the emergency exit door by moving the lever to the disarm position. NPR stated that interviews with law enforcement at the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that other passengers witnessed Torres using a safety card to ask a neighboring passenger where the lever on the side door was located before the attack occurred.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that about 45 minutes before landing, an alarm in the cockpit alerting the flight crew that the side door had been potentially tampered with was triggered. A member of the flight crew went to investigate. They noticed the emergency exit door was moved to the unlocked position, and its lever was disarmed. 

A flight attendant then reported to the captain and flight crew explaining how they saw Torres near the same emergency exit door and suspected that Torres had been the one to tamper with the locks and lever. 

Next, a flight attendant confronted Torres about tampering with the emergency exit door, to which Torres responded by asking if there were cameras on the plane. The flight attendant expressed his concerns to the captain, advising him to make an immediate landing of the aircraft, as Torres could be a danger to the flight.

Soon after, Torres allegedly approached two flight attendants that were standing near a side door in the aisle. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, one of the flight attendants saw Torres’ lips moving, however, it was unclear what Torres was trying to articulate. Torres then lunged at one of the flight attendants, striking them on their neck with a broken metal spoon three times.

Immediately, passengers of the plane came to help, tackling Torres to the ground. The flight risk was then restrained by the flight crew and heroic passengers. Torres was then taken into Boston custody upon safe arrival of the plane.

A video posted on CBS news obtained from a passenger named Lisa Olsen, reveals how Torres approaches the flight attendants very aggressively and wastes no time in attacking one of them. In no time, passengers nearby can be seen quickly getting up and rushing to help the flight attendants. 

The New York Times reported that Torres had been admitted to the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital in April 2015 for court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. The hospital is run by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, according to documents from a lawsuit that he filed against the hospital in 2021. Torres argued that the hospital had misdiagnosed his spinal pain from a car accident as a mental disorder which led to the case being dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office site, Torres can face charges of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and using a dangerous weapon. This can result in a sentence of up to life in prison, up to five years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Luckily, no serious injuries have been reported thanks to the brave passengers and flight attendants of United Flight 2609. Currently, Torres is still under further investigation.