Hero dad who stopped plane passenger opening door mid-flight

and restrained him with shoelaces said he just wanted to protect his son

The man who restrained a passenger trying to open an airplane door mid-flight has been hailed a hero for his quick actions, though he claims he was just trying to protect his son.

Henry Pignataro was on Alaska Airlines Flight 132 from Anchorage to Portland with his ten-year-old son Henry yesterday when Alexander Michael Herrera tried to open the emergency door.

Heroic: Henry Pignataro with his son, also called Henry describe the dramatic events that unfolded yesterday on Alaska Airlines Flight 132

Heroic: Henry Pignataro with his son, also called Henry describe the dramatic events that unfolded yesterday on Alaska Airlines Flight 132

After being restrained with the help of some shoelaces, Herrera was arrested at Portland International Airport when the flight landed and charged with one count of interfering with a flight crew.

Alexander Michael Herrera,

Alexander Michael Herrera, 23, was arrested by FBI agents at Portland International Airport on a charge of interfering with a flight crew on Alaska Airlines Flight No. 132 from Anchorage to Portland

Mr Pignataro spoke out today about the dramatic moment he grabbed Herrera, wrestled him to the ground and restrained him with shoe laces, claiming he ‘just happened to be in the right place at the right time’.
He told CBS I don’t know what it was, but I heard the door open, like that whoosh noise, and I thought someone had discharged mace.

‘It was a combination of that sound, and a woman yelled, “Somebody help me!” The strange thing was, I didn’t see much of anything.
 ‘I heard her voice, I saw this big gentleman, about 6-feet-2, 6-feet-4. I guessed that he was in his twenties. He looked like a college student.

Something primal kicked in, and I thought, “I have my son on the plane”.’

Henry Pignataro said: 'Something primal kicked in, and I thought,

Henry Pignataro said: ‘Something primal kicked in, and I thought, “I have my son on the plane”, and I rushed towards him’

From four rows behind Mr Pignataro went rushing towards the 23-year-old when no one else responded and grabbed him around the neck and pulled him towards him, he said.

Detained: The moment Alexander Herrera was arrested at Portland International Airport yesterday

Henry Pignataro said: ‘Something primal kicked in, and I thought, “I have my son on the plane”, and I rushed towards him’

‘We were nose-to-nose. When I was on top of him, he was saying “Why are you doing this to me? Why are you hurting me?”

‘I kept saying “Stop looking in my eyes, I’m doing this because my ten-year-old son is on the plane”.

‘And he kept saying, “I’m looking into your soul”.’

A number of passengers then helped to belt Herrera into a seat, after which, he seemed ‘normal and coherent’.

Adding to his account of yesterday’s incident, Mr Pignataro told CBS: ‘There’s no stun gun, no Taser, no Mace. You’re talking 200 people on a plane, they have no protection whatsoever.

Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said: 'Once the passenger was restrained he sat calmly in the seat for the short duration of the flight.'

Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said: ‘Once the passenger was restrained he sat calmly in the seat for the short duration of the flight’

‘I find it hard to believe, we talk such a good game but all it takes is one person…luckily, everything came together perfect.’

A spokeswoman from Alaska Airlines said the doors have locks that prevent them from being opened in flight so Herrera could not have opened the door.

‘My first thought was that the plane must be going down, but then I heard someone screaming to stop him, take him down,’ he said.

Passenger Henry Pignataro told KTVB that after the man was restrained he was put into a seat ‘where he was surrounded by big guys’

The plane was only nine minutes behind schedule despite the incident.