A passenger on an Air New Zealand plane diverted to Tahiti has spoken of the concern he and others felt after a woman began screaming on the flight.
Vincent Garcia, of New York, was flying to Houston with friends and family on board flight NZ28 from Auckland on Friday last week when a passenger sitting in front of him began yelling about "evil thoughts" and waving her arms.
He said the incident left him and his family - including his father-in-law who was sitting next to the woman - shocked and scared.
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An Air NZ spokeswoman confirmed the plane was diverted to land at Pape'ete Tahiti Faa'a International Airport mid flight due to a "medical event on board". However, she declined to comment further due to privacy concerns.
Garcia said they first noticed something was wrong when they heard the woman scream.
He wasn't sure where the noise was coming from and initially thought it was from the movie he was watching.
"I took my headset off and we all looked at each other like, 'what's going on, this is really weird'. My father-in-law [sitting beside the woman] was looking at us as this woman was screaming.
"A couple of minutes later she screamed 'in the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke my evil thoughts'. She started crying a little. At first she had her hands in the air, waving them ... she then put her head down."
He said his father-in-law asked if she was okay but she ignored him initially before turning round and giving him a "really weird face".
Garcia then alerted a flight attendant who was walking past and repeated what she had said.
The flight continued and again the woman shouted the same words, grabbing the attention of more passengers.
An elderly couple sitting next to the woman also changed seats after the wife became concerned.
The woman yelled again and another passenger stopped the flight attendant, who called over a senior staffer who began questioning people.
"We thought maybe she was having a bad nightmare, she was saying the same thing over and over and over again ... so he came over and started questioning her, and she said 'arrest me'.
"I guess she just felt she had some evil inside her and she was going to do something. She warned him, 'just arrest me', and then they got up and walked down the back of the plane."
After locking herself in the toilet for 15 minutes, she exited before being escorted out of view.
Garcia said they were later told by staff that the woman had to be restrained for the remainder of the flight until they landed in Tahiti, where they were met by police.
They remained in Tahiti for a couple of hours as the plane re-fuelled, resulting in the group missing their connecting flight in the United States - however they were put up in a hotel by Air NZ.
While he praised Air NZ staff for the way they handled the incident, he was surprised to see it labelled a "medical emergency".
"It was kind of scary just because it was a little eerie in the sense, were there other people, was she supposed to be doing something on the plane, why is she telling them to arrest her?"
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
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