Brawl Aboard Spirit Airlines Flight Forces Emergency Landing: 'We Were in Shock'

Authorities said the fight started because a passenger "wanted to sleep and he protested other people, including a flight attendant, talking too loudly"

Spirit Airlines
Photo: Spirit Airlines

A physical fight on board a Spirit Airlines flight resulted in an emergency landing last week.

During a trip from Los Angeles to Detroit on Thursday, several passengers engaged in a brawl that left witnesses "in shock" as some attempted to defuse the violent argument, according to WDIV, which obtained footage of the fight.

The flight made an emergency landing in Des Moines, Iowa, at 3:13 a.m., according to KETV, and stayed grounded until about 5:00 a.m., Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek told the outlet that no one was arrested in the "unique situation."

"It was determined that the incident took place over Nebraska, so DMPD has no jurisdiction," said Parizek. "At the crew’s request, we escorted one passenger off the plane, and it continued on to Detroit."

Added Parizek: "He was free to go. It appears that he was the victim of the assault, but initiated the dispute on the flight. It started because he wanted to sleep and he protested other people, including a flight attendant, talking too loudly."

In a statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for Spirit said the airline "does not tolerate any type of physical altercations" aboard its flights.

"We are aware of a physical altercation onboard Flight Number 709 Los Angeles (LAX) to Detroit (DTW) that caused a diversion to Des Moines," said the representative. "Taking care of our Guests and Team Members is and always has been our absolute priority. Spirit Airlines does not tolerate any type of physical altercation on board our aircraft and appropriate action will be taken."

Spirit Airlines
Spirit Airlines

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Added the spokesperson: "We thank the law enforcement officers in Des Moines for their assistance upon arrival."

One witness told WDIV that the dispute sparked from one passenger trying to sleep while others were being noisy around them. The onlooker also said the scuffle left blood splattered on the fighters' clothing.

“We were in shock, really; we couldn’t believe it was happening,” the witness told WDIV. "It was really scary. I had my kids with me and everybody was like, ‘Oh my God.’”

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