Air Canada plane di­verted af­ter man al­legedly tries to open door

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - MICHELLE MCQUIGGE

An On­tario man is in fed­eral cus­tody in the United States af­ter al­legedly as­sault­ing mem­bers of an Air Canada flight crew and try­ing to open the door of a plane while it was in flight.

Court doc­u­ments show Bran­don Michael Cour­neyea was ar­rested on Mon­day af­ter his flight from Mon­tego Bay, Ja­maica, to Toronto had to be di­verted be­cause of a dis­tur­bance on board.

The doc­u­ments al­lege Cour­neyea yelled at fel­low pas­sen­gers for look­ing at him, swung pots full of hot cof­fee at flight at­ten­dants and even­tu­ally tried to open the door of the air­craft mid­flight af­ter say­ing “it would only take one guy to take the plane down.”

The flight was ul­ti­mately di­verted to Or­lando, Fla., where Cour­neyea was ar­rested and ar­rested by the FBI.

A crim­i­nal com­plaint against him says he was ar­rested un­der a charge of as­sault or in­tim­i­da­tion of a flight crew mem­ber and in­ter­fer­ing with their job du­ties, an al­le­ga­tion that has not yet been proven in court.

Cour­neyea’s wife says his ar­rest has come as a com­plete shock, say­ing his al­leged be­hav­iour is not in keep­ing with the man she knows.

“That is not my hus­band at all,” she told The Cana­dian Press. “There’s a lot more to what brought that on, be­cause my hus­band is the kind­est, most lov­ing man you’ll ever meet. And any­body that knows him will tell you the same thing.”

Amanda Cour­neyea said her 33-year-old hus­band headed off to Ja­maica last week from his home in Amher­stview, Ont., to ful­fil a long-held de­sire to take a va­ca­tion there.

She said she had urged him to “cross it off his bucket list,” adding he trav­elled alone be­cause the cou­ple has five chil­dren, many of whom have spe­cial needs, and can­not be left in the care of a babysit­ter.

But Bran­don Cour­neyea’s va­ca­tion plans went awry al­most im­me­di­ately, ac­cord­ing to his wife, who said he told her that lo­cals were threat­en­ing his life.

She ar­ranged for him to move up his flight plans from Fri­day to Mon­day, book­ing him on an Air Canada flight to Toronto that left Mon­tego Bay in the late af­ter­noon.

Ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint filed against Cour­neyea, dis­rup­tions be­gan al­most as soon as the flight was in the air.

A flight at­ten­dant told an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tor that she first heard signs of a “ver­bal dis­tur­bance” shortly af­ter take­off, though Cour­neyea soon set­tled down.

He came to the crew’s at­ten­tion again, how­ever, when he al­legedly be­gan yelling at pas­sen­gers for “look­ing at him” and threw a wad of pa­per at a woman sit­ting nearby, the com­plaint said.

Crew mem­bers asked Cour­neyea to move to the back of the plane, but Cour­neyea al­legedly walked er­rat­i­cally through the air­craft, at one point with­out shoes on.

Even­tu­ally, the crim­i­nal com­plaint states, Cour­neyea en­tered the back of the plane, picked up a full cof­fee pot and be­gan swing­ing it at a flight at­ten­dant.

Pas­sen­gers also found them­selves in the path of the cof­fee pot, ac­cord­ing to a Toronto city coun­cil­lor who hap­pened to be on board the flight.

Coun. Michael Thomp­son said he had ac­com­pa­nied Cour­neyea to the back of the plane in or­der to make sure he wasn’t alone and talk to him if needed. Cour­neyea asked Thomp­son to leave him alone be­fore re­sort­ing to other mea­sures, Thomp­son said.

“I had a par­tic­u­lar en­counter with a hot cof­fee pot that he was threat­en­ing to throw on me,” he said. “I was sim­ply try­ing to pre­vent him from tak­ing cer­tain ac­tions that I thought would per­haps en­dan­ger the safety of the plane.”

The crim­i­nal com­plaint out­lines those ac­tions in more de­tail.

“A fel­low pas­sen­ger at­tempted to calm Cour­neyea, how­ever, these at­tempts were fu­tile,” it reads. “Cour­neyea then stated that it would only take one guy to take the plane down and that he wanted to take every­one with him.”

Af­ter grab­bing an­other full cof­fee pot, Cour­neyea al­legedly dove for the back exit and tried to pull up a lever to open the door.

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