Barberton off-duty officer risks own safety to help others on plane

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BARBERTON, Ohio (WJW) – Barberton Police Officer Steve Coburn said he and his girlfriend were hoping to get out of town for a few days and relax.

“We wanted to just get away from work and the stress ,” Coburn told the Fox 8 I-Team. 

The couple boarded a Spirit Airline Flight in Cleveland last week.  The flight was headed to Los Angeles.

“It was about three hours into the flight when a female flight attendant came sprinting past me down the aisle and I was like that’s odd that doesn’t normally happen,” Coburn said. 

He said he heard some commotion.  He didn’t hesitate to help.

He said he soon found out that Spirit Airlines Flight attendants were dealing with an unruly passenger who was allegedly trying open an exit door during the flight.

“I saw this male he was shirtless and shoeless and he was on the floor and the two male flight attendants were struggling ,” Coburn said.

He said they were trying to restrain the man so he wouldn’t hurt himself.  Once they got him restrained Coburn tried talking to the man, but he wouldn’t respond.

“We  sat him up against the bathroom door, he still didn’t say anything and at that time I was trying to communicate with him,” Coburn said. “The flight attendant was trying to talk to him too but he didn’t say anything. He was trying to get out of the restraints. I kept trying to explain to him you are only going to hurt yourself trying to get out of them. I told him we are here to help you, just calm down and breathe. But he continued to try and head butt us. He tried to bite the one male flight attendant.”

Coburn said the flight attendants were injured, and he too suffered minor injuries.

“I had a fat lip and a headache for a while,” Coburn said. “I also had multiple bruises on my left side.”

The plane was diverted to Denver. Once the plane landed, the unruly passenger was arrested.

Coburn says he is thankful to the flight attendants and another male passenger who helped.

“It wasn’t just me,” Coburn said.  “It was a team effort and the pilot did a tremendous job getting the plane landed in a hurry. “

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