Caddie helps quell flight ruckus before landing

Fight causes crew to make emergency landing

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Jet lag is usually Jody Keepers' worst complaint when he flies across the country for work.

Jody Keepers, of Martinez, woke up on a red eye flight from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., on Sunday after a woman became hostile on board. Martin acted swiftly as he and another passanger helped the flight attendants bind the woman with plastic ties. The plane made an emergency landing in Omaha, Neb., where the woman was escorted away by law enforcement. "It's just something I had to do," the professinal caddie said. "I just saw a struggling woman hollering and had to go help get the situation under control."  Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Jody Keepers, of Martinez, woke up on a red eye flight from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., on Sunday after a woman became hostile on board. Martin acted swiftly as he and another passanger helped the flight attendants bind the woman with plastic ties. The plane made an emergency landing in Omaha, Neb., where the woman was escorted away by law enforcement. "It's just something I had to do," the professinal caddie said. "I just saw a struggling woman hollering and had to go help get the situation under control."

On Sunday night, he came home with a pair of skinned knees and assorted bruises.

Keepers, 40, logs a lot of hours in the air as a caddie for the LPGA Tour. On Sunday, he was headed home to Augusta via a red-eye flight from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.

About 3 a.m., he was awakened by a ruckus coming from the back of the plane. About that time, the pilot announced an emergency landing over the intercom.

Keepers looked back toward the rear of the plane in time to see a flight attendant take a tumble down the aisle. Two male passengers were moving in on the culprit: an angry woman standing in the aisle screaming.

Acting on "instinct," Keepers said he immediately rushed to the back of the plane to help. The fracas was in a wide spot in the aisle near two emergency exits. Keepers feared she would open one of those doors.

"I didn't want anything to happen," he said Tuesday by phone.

With the help of the other passengers, the woman was pinned to the floor of the plane. But she still had plenty of fight in her. Keepers said he grabbed an arm and her head and held on. Several times the woman tried to bite him.

Eventually they were able to lift the woman off the aisle, handcuff her and lead her to the rear of the jet, where they cinched her tight into a seat. Within minutes, the plane landed in Omaha, Neb., and local authorities boarded.

Marie Rita Manzoni was charged Tuesday with interfering with a flight crew, a federal charge, The Associated Press reported.

According to court papers, United Airlines Flight 142 was diverted to Omaha about 5 a.m. Monday after Manzoni, who screamed about terrorists on board, was subdued by passengers.

The Boeing 757 was carrying 148 passengers and six crew members. Manzoni was returning to her home in Maryland, the AP said.

Keepers wasn't exactly sure what set off the woman. He said another passenger told him that she made some sort of threat about blowing up the plane. When he tackled her to the floor, he said, she was shouting: "I love my country. I don't want to hurt anyone."

Another passenger, Lauren Airey, told Omaha television station WOWT that a flight attendant was trying to subdue the passenger after an argument turned into a fight.

She said other passengers took charge and "dog-piled" the woman.

A spokeswoman for United Airlines said in an e-mail that the flight was "diverted to Omaha for assistance from the authorities," who took over when the plane landed. She gave no other details.

Keepers, a caddie for 15 years, told himself after Sept. 11 that he would take action if his plane was ever hijacked.

He said he felt no hesitation when he saw the situation unfolding.

"It was a shot of adrenaline," Keepers said. "Now I know how cops feel."

Comments (16) Add comment
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Augusta resident
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Augusta resident 03/31/10 - 03:23 am
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Anyone doing that on a plane

Anyone doing that on a plane should be dog-piled.

southern2
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southern2 03/31/10 - 06:45 am
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Brave citizens like Keepers

Brave citizens like Keepers remind us that there are still some out there willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe. He is a true hero.

justputtin
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justputtin 03/31/10 - 06:51 am
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Good job Jody, you need to

Good job Jody, you need to double as a federal marshall, get 2 checks and kill 2 birds w/ one stone!

fish2
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fish2 03/31/10 - 07:35 am
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After 911 anything goes---she

After 911 anything goes---she is lucky to be alive. People are not going down with the ship anymore.

gnumbgnuts
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gnumbgnuts 03/31/10 - 07:53 am
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Toting clubs and taking

Toting clubs and taking orders from lady golfers all day, I'm sure he was in the perfect frame of mind to pounce on that crazy chick. Great job!

Indigo
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Indigo 03/31/10 - 11:40 am
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Hmm, I'd use my 9 Iron here

Hmm, I'd use my 9 Iron here Jody LOL

CaptainThomas
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CaptainThomas 03/31/10 - 12:30 pm
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"Brave citizens"? I dont

"Brave citizens"? I dont know about that, friends and neighbors. Looks to me like the lady had a panic attack and a bunch of people just piled onto her. Methinks it coulda been handled better.

fish2
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fish2 03/31/10 - 03:19 pm
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Screamed about terrorists on

Screamed about terrorists on board,fighting next to the emergency doors--ok Captain Thomas please dont fly the plane I am on.

pommom38
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pommom38 03/31/10 - 03:23 pm
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U may be correct Capt, but

U may be correct Capt, but going by what the witnesses said, if she clearly made any kind of threat, she needed to be subdued.
She had already tossed a flight attendant, the screaming, fighting against the people, what would you have done?? I'd be on that plane screaming had they NOT tied her up. Panic attack or not, she was acting insane and they did the right thing. Apparently, her adrenaline was high as well, still fighting after people were trying to help?

JackieJessie
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JackieJessie 03/31/10 - 04:49 pm
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Good work Jody.

Good work Jody.

Eaglewing
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Eaglewing 03/31/10 - 06:06 pm
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Captain Thomas would be the

Captain Thomas would be the one trying to negotiate with the terrorist getting ready to blow up the plane.

commentgal
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commentgal 03/31/10 - 08:54 pm
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Corey Perrine's photo that

Corey Perrine's photo that accompanies this story is excellent. Kudos!

UK Boy
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UK Boy 04/01/10 - 12:29 am
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Captain Thomas, I've known

Captain Thomas, I've known Jody for many years and he even caddied for me back in High School. He is a good person and would never take it upon himself to simply hurt someone without cause. I travel quite a bit myself and wouldn't think twice after what has happened with our countries past. Granted I don't think she could have opened the door with the pressure at that altitude but she needed to be restrained. She made threats to blow up the plane killing people including Jody. If you were on that flight, wouldn't you take action or would you simply stand by and watch someone take your life?

SCEgikatid
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SCEgikatid 04/01/10 - 02:00 am
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Great job Jody!

Great job Jody!

CaptainThomas
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CaptainThomas 04/01/10 - 11:39 am
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You folks ought to read the

You folks ought to read the article a little more closely (and the Associated Press version). What "threats" did she make? Why none! She was just screaming. She said nothing about blowing up any plane. "Another passenger told him" that. She just happened to be by the door and Jody "feared" she "might" open one.

I do imagine that he is a fine and decent person, UK, but he states that he was woken up at 3 am and he didn't know what was happening. He just joined in the general ruckus.

sf
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sf 04/04/10 - 01:31 pm
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CaptainThomas: You're

CaptainThomas: You're entitled to your opinion, but you're wrong about the facts. I was there. The woman was not only screaming, but she was fighting with the flight attendant and pushing her way toward the front of the plane. The flight attendant asked passengers to help, and Jody and one other passenger and I did. We held her down until the flight attendant could put restraints on her wrists and ankles, and moved her to a seat. Then Jody and I sat next to her for the 15 minutes or so it took to land the plane. She probably had no hostile intent, and there was sure no need for a taser or any other kind of weapon. We used the minimum amount of force needed to keep her from accidentally hurting herself or anyone else.

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