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Interview of Jan Boyer, Passenger on Flight 855

Aired February 7, 2002 - 10:52   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: United Airlines Flight 855 en route from Miami earlier today, bound for Buenos Aires in Argentina. Apparently, a man got rather unruly on board that plane, tried to force his way into the cockpit. The man was restrained, the plane continued en route to Argentina without further incident.

Jan Boyer, though, was on board that plane as a passenger -- can you hear me okay?

JAN BOYER, PASSENGER, UNITED FLIGHT 855: ...fine, Bill.

HEMMER: Jan Boyer on the telephone there now in Buenos Aires. Tell us what happened, and where were you on board that plane?

BOYER: I was sleeping in the first-class section, and I was awoken by some shouting by one of the stewardesses, and by some loud, pounding noises. So, I woke up and I walked a few feet towards the galley, and towards where the cockpit was, and I faced an individual, who basically kicking the door of the cockpit, you know, in sort of a kung-fu style. I looked at him, and I was facing -- there was no one between us, and I said, "what are you doing?"

And he said, "I want to talk to the captain." And he just kept sort of pounding at the door. I turned around, and, you know, behind me there was some commotion. I gather some of the flight crew and some of the other people had been attracted by a P.A. announcement that had been made, saying, you know, "all crew come forward."

And then before we knew it, the guy had gone below -- the cockpit door is divided into two sections, and the lower section actually opens up and isn't protected by the barriers that they put in, and he had actually inserted himself -- his torso into the cockpit. So I jumped on him, other individuals jumped on him, at that point, and what I learned later is that he was halfway into the cockpit, and then, on the other side -- the co-pilot -- used an ax that they have in the cockpit to basically hit him, bluntly, on the head.

HEMMER: So he was struck then, right?

BOYER: Yes, yes. He was struck by the co-pilot in the head, and that caused -- with basically an ax, you know, a small ax that they have, and this led to a lot of blood, sort of, all over the place, and you know, what that allowed us to do is sort of drag him out. And at that point, we were sort of struggling with him. He is sort of a strong individual. He was speaking English, sort of mumbling some things in English.

We were desperately looking for these restraints -- that we had heard, and the captain, who was not in the cockpit, who was taking a rest, sort of pulled out a hat and, you know, he was on -- sort of on top of me, and on top of the guy, and he pulled out the restraints from the hat, and I put the restraints, you know, first on his right hand, and then we sort of struggled to get his left hand, and basically put the restraint on him, and then some other individuals put on his legs.

HEMMER: Wow. Jan, let me stop you for a second. I just want to clarify a few points here. You mentioned that he said some things that he wanted to talk to the captain. What else did he say, and was it in English or was it in Spanish?

BOYER: Nothing really -- once he was on the ground, and we were on top of him, he was speaking just in English. I, at that point, didn't know what nationality he was, or what language. But he was speaking, you know, to another fellow passenger in English, and they identified himself with a name that then resulted not to be his name.

So we were speaking to him in English, until then, someone who sort of described themselves as a colleague of his appeared, and was speaking to him in Spanish. I thought that was a bit odd, and you know, then I was -- I pulled out his wallet, in there we learned that he was Uruguayan (ph) nationality. So I was speaking to him in Spanish.

But at that point, we were more worried about restraining him further. So we picked him up and we took him back to the business section and then -- I proceeded to sort of tie him down with sort of seat belts and, you know, sort of demonstration seat belts on a flight, and the three of four of us who were sort of involved tied him down, and then ended up spending the next three or four hours -- there was some discussion about whether we go down or we land somewhere in between.

Then the captain decided to go on, and you know, I ended up spending -- and some of these other passengers and crew members the next tree of four hours next to him talking to him and saying...

HEMMER: Jan, what more did you learn after your discussions with him?

BOYER: Not a lot. I was trying to sort of learn a little bit about background and, his job...

HEMMER: Did he give you anything, did he reveal anything?

BOYER: A few facts which I'm not sure I'm at liberty to sort of comment about.

HEMMER: Okay, not a problem, not a -- listen, I'm running out of time here, but I want to know more about this door that was not secured. How was he able to put half his torso inside that cockpit? BOYER: Well, because there's the lower part of the door that has an opening. I don't know why, it is sort of like the door is split into two, and he must have sort of seen that, and kicked it and therefore, it opened up. Therefore he was able to insert himself. It's in the lower part of the door.

HEMMER: Got it. Jan Boyer. Listen, many thanks to you for taking time to describe what happened there. That's an absolutely amazing flight that took place earlier today from Miami to Argentina. I know you got to run, we got to run, too. Jan, again, thanks.

And apparently the man apparently of Uruguay descent, hit over the head with an ax by one of the captains of that plane. Again United Airlines Flight 855 earlier today en route from Miami, Florida to Argentina.

Wow, harrowing trip there, but also that we do know the plane landed luckily and safely there in Argentina, but certainly a lot of questions surrounding that flight.

Jan, again, thanks to you.

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