A Southwest Passenger Threatened to Kill Everyone On Her Plane: Here’s What Happened

Flying stresses a lot of people out, but one woman took it a step too far on a recent Southwest Airlines flight. According to KOIN 6, a woman traveling on a flight from Portland, Oregon, to Sacramento, California, became irate and threatened to kill everyone on the plane. Here’s what happened.

There’s a reason bathrooms have ‘no smoking’ signs

an airplane bathroom

It’s a federal crime to smoke in airplane bathrooms. | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Flight attendants removed Valerie Curbelo, 24, from the plane bathroom after they found her smoking inside. She became increasingly upset, removing an oxygen mask from its compartment and pushing flight attendants and other passengers as they tried to calm her down. One man caught it on video.

Next: “I will kill everybody on this plane.”

The woman became irate as flight attendants restrained her

The woman began yelling as flight attendants tried to calm her

The woman began yelling as flight attendants tried to calm her. | Screenshot via KOIN 6

In the video obtained by KOIN 6, a fellow passenger captured Curbelo basically freaking out. She yells, “I swear, if you don’t (expletive) land, I will (expletive) kill everybody on this (expletive) plane!” To that, a flight attendant responds, “No, you won’t.” The plane continued its planned trip to Sacramento, where law enforcement officers greeted Curbelo at the gate.

Next: Southwest Airlines confirmed its flight attendants acted appropriately.

Flight attendants did what they could to keep passengers safe

a screenshot of a statement from southwest airlines

A statement from Southwest Airlines about the incident | YouTube screenshot via KOIN 6.

Southwest Airlines provided a statement on the incident that read, in part, “Our crew enforced the regulation and that was followed by the passenger outburst. The safety of our crew and passengers is our top priority and we take all threats seriously.” After the incident, the pilot declared an emergency in order to receive priority landing at its destination, and the crew made sure the passengers remained safe until Curbelo could be removed.

Next: A CBS affiliate caught up with Curbelo about why she lost it.

Curbelo blamed anxiety for her outburst

curbelo speaking from jail

A reporter asked her why she lost control, but she could not say. | YouTube Screenshot via KOIN 6.

CBS13’s Marc Thompson went to the Sacramento County Jail to get Curbelo’s side of the story.
“Why did you try and smoke in the bathroom?” Thompson asked. “The anxiety, yeah the anxiety,” Curbelo said. She could not articulate why she got so anxious, or why she said the things she did. When asked why she threatened to kill everybody onboard, she responded, “I don’t know. It was not me. It was not me.”

Next: At least one person worried about Curbelo’s mental health previously.

She had sought mental health treatment prior to the flight

a woman looking out the window with luggage

A friend expressed concern about Curbelo, prior to flying. | iStock.com

A friend of Curbelo’s told KCOIN she took Curbelo to a mental health crisis center a few days before the incident on the plane. She reported feeling worried about her friend, but did not know why Curbelo wanted to go to Sacramento. The Washington Post reports that during the outburst, Curbelo gathered her belongings as if to disembark. “I have a destination for myself!” she yells. The video shows her wearing a hat, sunglasses, and an overcoat, and collecting her belongings as if to disembark the flight.

Next: The flight from Portland to Sacramento doesn’t take that long.

Despite the scuffle, the flight arrived on schedule

airplane with passengers on seats waiting to take off

Flight attendants followed protocol during the incident. | AwaylGl/iStock/Getty Images

The typical flight time from Portland International Airport to Sacramento International Airport comes in at 1 hour and 23 minutes, according to Flight Sphere. The flight Curbelo disrupted included 136 passengers and a five-person crew. Southwest emphasized that the crew acted appropriately and that the airline “takes all threats seriously.”

Next: When they landed, the staff continued to follow protocol.

The passenger remains detained for the time being

the bars of a jail cell looking down the hallway

The woman remains in custody, at press time. | Richard Bouhet/AFP/Getty Images

Upon arrival, authorities arrested Curbelo on three felony counts of threats to commit a crime resulting in death or great bodily injury. As of press time, she remains in Sacramento County Jail on $75,000 bail. Her arraignment was set for Dec. 12.

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