Southwest Airlines flight attendant Garrick became Facebook's newest hero over the weekend

By Alex Heigl
July 13, 2016 01:00 PM
Courtesy Erika Jeorgean Swart

A special flight attendant has given new meaning to the term, “friendly skies.”

Erika Jeorgean Swart’s 9-year-old daughter Gabby doesn’t like to fly. But her daughter’s extreme anxiety on a recent Southwest Airlines flight from Orlando to Newark was still unexpected.

“She hadn’t flown since she was little and she’s not normally a fearful child, so her panic took me by complete surprise,” Swart tells PEOPLE of her daughter, who has type I diabetes. “I was very unprepared for the anxiety in general and then ultimately what it started to do to her blood sugar.”

Thankfully, Garrick, one of the flight’s attendants, was there to help. Swart outlined the man’s actions in a photo and post she made to Southwest’s Facebook page Saturday.

The Swart family
Courtesy Erika Jeorgean Swart

“Upon take-off he noticed she was struggling,” Swart explained. “Throughout the flight he tried making her laugh and [was] bringing her special drinks. As we were getting closer weather was rough and there was a bit of turbulence. Gabby began having a complete panic attack on descent. He came up to the front and asked if she would like for him to sit next to her in the empty seat. I was flying without my husband with two other smaller children and couldn’t leave my row She happily accepted his offer. He suggested they talk to distract her from thinking about the landing so they talked for around 30 minutes about everything from his daughter who is the same age to her pets to what grade she is going into. During extremely rough turbulence she began crying and grabbed his arm, he gently told her she could hang on as long as she needed to.”

Erika and Gabby Swart
Courtesy Erika Jeorgean Swart

“Crashing blood sugar during the actual landing was a huge fear of mine, when it wound up happening I was so grateful that Garrick stepped in and could quickly get her orange juice,” Swart explains to PEOPLE.

When the flight had safely landed, Garrick announced on the PA system that Gabby had overcome her fear of flying, which earned a round of applause from the other passengers.

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“We are forever grateful to have met such a beautiful, selfless soul,” Swart’s post concluded.

Now we have someone to look for whenever we fly Orlando to Newark on Southwest.

Reporting by ERIN HILL

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