METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - A United flight from Houston had to return to Bush Intercontinental Airport Monday morning after an unruly passenger rushed the cockpit. It took two men - one of them a Rummel wrestling coach - to finally handcuff the female subject. Several people were injured in the process.
"I heard screaming going on, and I didn't know what was going on," said John Kent, who was on the redeye flight from Houston when he was forced to put all his wrestling skills to the test.
"She punched two flight attendants and knocked them out of the way," he said.
The altercation began near row 30, but quickly approached Kent, who was in row 15 of United flight 898.
"Maybe a minute later, a bolt of speed coming past me, saying, 'It's over,' going like this," said Kent.
As the woman, whom Kent said was bigger than he was, rushed the cockpit door, he jumped into action.
"I'm trying to hold her face down to keep her from biting me. She kept screaming , 'It's over, it's over,'" said Kent.
But it wasn't over. Kent said the struggle went on for 20 minutes. The woman bit Kent on the arm, and bit another man who jumped into help. Kent said two stewardesses were bleeding.
"Everybody's screaming, 'Where's the handcuffs?' Where's the U.S. Marshal?' and all I'm doing is holding her down," said Kent.
Finally, Kent said stewardesses got zip ties and they were able to restrain the woman, whom Kent said spoke broken English. A third man, who identified himself as a doctor, tried to intervene.
"He kept saying, 'I need to see if she's breathing.' I said, 'She's breathing, she's biting me!'" said Kent.
After the altercation, Kent thought the flight was about to land in New Orleans, but he was surprised to learn that wasn't going to be the case.
"We were already back in Houston, and I was upset. I had been on an airplane for 12 hours that day," said Kent.
As the plane landed, Kent was surprised at the response.
"Everybody is thinking the FBI or police will come on board, then they send one fire department guy in who appeared to be off duty," he said.
Eventually police boarded the plane and discovered that the unruly passenger was carrying a weapon.
"We were about to leave, then they discovered a large crystal rock the size of a softball, and then they said this was an armed attack," said Kent.
After another hour delay, Kent said flight attendants showed their appreciation.
"They offered me everything imaginable, said 'You saved our lives.' I said 'I just want to get home. I don't care,'" said Kent.
Kent said he's glad he was in a position to make a difference.
Houston police say the unruly passenger was taken to a hospital for a mental evaluation. They are now working with the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office to determine if the woman will be charged. Since she has been charged yet, her name is not being released.
United issued a statement, saying: "We thank our customers for their patience, and our crew for their professional actions."