Man tries to open emergency door on SLC flight to Portland to ‘share thoughts’ on COVID vaccines
Feb 16, 2022, 1:43 PM | Updated: 1:55 pm
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY — A man is facing federal charges after he allegedly tried to open an airplane’s emergency door during a flight from Salt Lake City to Portland, Oregon, “to share his thoughts on COVID-19 vaccines.”
According to court documents, Michael Brandon Demarre was on a Delta flight on Feb. 11 when he tried to open an emergency door on the aircraft.
Witnesses on the flight told Portland police Demarre “removed the plastic covering of the emergency exit handle and pulled on the handle with his full body weight,” before a flight attendant demanded that he stop touching the handle.
Authorities said Demarre complied, and he was taken to the back of the plane, seated and physically restrained.
Flight attendants then asked four passengers to watch Demarre, according to court records, to prevent him from further interference with the emergency doors.
There was no indication Demarre was intoxicated or on any drugs, and after the flight landed in Portland, police say Demarre admitted to trying to open the door “so other passengers would (film) him, thereby giving him the opportunity to share his thoughts on COVID-19 vaccines.”
Demarre is now is facing charges of interference and attempted interference with flight crew and attendants, and threats to interfere with a flight crew and attendants.
As of Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration has received 394 reports of unruly passengers — just over six incidents per 10,000 flights.
The FAA received 5,981 reports of unruly passengers in 2021 and initiated over 1,100 investigations.
As part of the FAA‘s reauthorization bill, the FAA can propose up to $37,000 per violation for unruly passenger cases.