N.L. woman allegedly tried to open plane door in flight

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A Newfoundland woman is facing charges after she tried unsuccessfully to open the door of a WestJet flight while in the skies over the Prairies.

Police say the flight, which took off from Calgary midday Tuesday and was bound for Halifax, had to make an emergency landing in Winnipeg.

WINNIPEG -

A Newfoundland woman is facing charges after she tried unsuccessfully to open the door of a WestJet flight while in the skies over the Prairies.

Police say the flight, which took off from Calgary midday Tuesday and was bound for Halifax, had to make an emergency landing in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg police Const. Shaun Chornley said the plane was about an hour into its flight and likely somewhere over Saskatchewan when a woman made her way to one of the door hatches and started pulling at it.

"She was close enough actually where she was standing directly in front of the door and made attempts to open it physically," Chornley said Wednesday.

"She made some verbal indication that she wanted to exit the plane."

The flight crew and a few of the 131 terrified passengers sprang to action.

"Obviously they were very frightened that this incident was unfolding. It was serious enough where some of the passengers did elect to intervene and assist the airline staff get this person under control."

The crew and intervening passengers, including one 77-year-old man who suffered minor injuries in the scuffle, managed to hold the woman until the plane landed and she was arrested by police.

Chornley did not know what the woman's motive was or whether there were any mental health issues at play.

A WestJet spokesman confirmed that the plane belonged to the company and declined to comment further because the matter is now before the court.

Barbara Loretta Morton, 47, of St. John's, is facing several charges including assault, mischief and endangering the safety of aircraft.

This is not the first time something like this has happened.

In April 2009, 20-year-old Julian Tologanak opened the door and jumped out of a small passenger plane while on his way home to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut from Yellowknife.

The aircraft was flying at 7,000 metres at the time. The cabin of the plane rapidly depressurized, but the two pilots managed to land safely with the door open.

An inquest earlier this year heard that before the flight, Yellowknife RCMP was called to a hotel where two residents had complained that Tologanak was causing a disturbance. The officers judged he was showing signs of depression and took him to the city's Stanton hospital.

Although at least four people testified at the inquiry that they were deeply concerned Tologanak might hurt himself, he was released from the hospital after a brief exam by a psychiatrist. That's when he boarded the plane home.

His body has never been found.

Organizations: WestJet, Winnipeg police Const. Shaun Chornley, Stanton hospital

Geographic location: WINNIPEG, Newfoundland, Calgary Halifax Saskatchewan St. John's Cambridge Bay Nunavut Yellowknife

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