LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – On a Southwest flight Sunday from Sacramento to San Diego, an unruly passenger attacked a flight attendant, knocking out two of her teeth and bloodying her face.
“Apparently what she did was stood up and took off her seat belt and the flight attendant told her to put it back on and she attacked her,” said Susan Stidham, who was on the flight.
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Another witness to the assault, Taro Arai, said the attack was violent.
“They start shoving each other and the next I [heard] was ‘Don’t touch me!’ They start yelling, the lady stood up and pound! She just knocked her out on the floor.” Arai said. “So, now she’s bleeding everywhere in the back looking at us and this lady who hit went back to her seat wore a mask [like] nothing happened seems like,” he said. “I’m like, whoa, I mean, she was so strong she could knock me out.”
The accused attacker is 28-year-old Vyvianna Quinonez, according to CBS Sacramento. She was escorted off the plane by officers and was arrested on the charge of battery causing serious bodily injury.
“Both of them, in my opinion, were wrong and it totally could have been avoided,” said Michelle Manner, a witness.
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Stidham, who took video of the female passenger being escorted off the plane by police in San Diego, said that passengers were just minutes from getting off the plane when the incident occurred. “I don’t understand why she would get so mad at the flight attendant,” she said. “I don’t understand why people are so angry, not only attacking people but assaulting them.
Lyn Montgomery, Southwest Airlines Union President, tells CBSLA that these kinds of attacks are a growing concern for flight attendants.
“Since April 8 to May 15 alone, 477 incidents were reported on Southwest Airlines. Nationwide, since the beginning of the year, it’s been 2,500,” Montgomery said. “I think we could probably say it has to do with the COVID-19 quarantine orders, the requirements to wear masks and also, perhaps, the civil unrest in the nation.
The injured flight attendant was taken off the plane for medical evaluation. Quinonez was booked with battery charges causing serious bodily injury.
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“I just want to know where are the people that should’ve in the back stand up and try to protect that flight attendant?” Stidham said.