The passenger's friend tells PEOPLE that the jabbing was "a pretty psycho thing to do"

By Hilary Shenfeld
Updated April 17, 2015 03:45 PM
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Southwest Airlines said in a statement that the woman was removed “after poking her seatmate with a pen to stop him from snoring.”

The passenger’s friend tells PEOPLE that the jabbing was “a pretty psycho thing to do.”

It was just the most recent incident of “air rage,” which has been sparked by frustrations such as battles over seat reclining to armrest wars.

The latest brouhaha erupted around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday as Southwest Flight 577 was taxiing down the runway at Chicago Midway International Airport en route to Manchester, New Hampshire.

The unidentified woman, already agitated by delays, had gotten on the plane, sat in an aisle seat and almost immediately got into a dispute with the middle seat passenger, Lenny Mordarski, 68, of Canterbury, New Hampshire, according to his friend, Michael Sutton, who was sitting next to him in the window seat.

“His arm was on the armrest and she thought it was hers and she said, ‘I’m going to write on you if you don’t move your arm,'” Sutton tells PEOPLE. “He told her the armrest is for both people.”

Almost immediately afterward, Mordarski fell asleep and his arm brushed against the woman’s arm, Sutton says. The woman, 64, then poked Mordarski in the arm with a pen so hard “he’s got bruises on his arm,” Sutton says.

“He screamed really loud,” Sutton says.

“Imagine being asleep and then being stung by bees,” Mordarski told CNN.

The plane returned to the gate and the woman was removed from the flight. “She was not allowed back on the plane,” Chicago police officer Janel Sedevic tells PEOPLE. The poking could have been considered a battery, a misdemeanor, but no arrests were made, she said.

Authorities said Mordarski didn’t sign a police complaint and declined medical attention. The flight then continued on, arriving in New Hampshire about two hours late. Sutton says the airline gave him and Mordarski free gin and tonics, and Mordarski also got a free travel voucher.

Southwest put the woman on a later flight, airline spokeswoman Brandy King told PEOPLE.

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