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No prison for panicked passenger who tried to open airliner's door during flight

No prison for panicked passenger who tried to open airliner's door during flight

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A Chicago man who tried to open a plane door during a flight will not go to prison.

A judge sentenced Joshua Suggs, 24, of Chicago to three years of supervised release and ordered him to not fly on a commercial flight without an adult companion. Suggs has already spent seven months behind bars.

One year ago this week, Suggs pushed past a flight attendant and lunged for a rear door of the plane. Multiple passengers helped flight attendants subdue Suggs. The flight, which was heading for Sacramento, landed in Omaha.

Suggs fears flying and must have had a panic attack during the flight, said his attorney, James Martin Davis.

Federal prosecutor Donald J. Kleine argued that Suggs acted recklessly and scared the pilot and flight attendants.

One passenger yelled, “we are going to die.” The experience was so traumatic, Kleine said, that another plane rider has received mental health treatment since the incident.

While it is not physically possible to open a plane door in the air, Judge Joseph Bataillon said the passengers did not know that and were terrified.

Bataillon said he was inclined to send Suggs to prison, but he instead followed the sentencing recommendation from the federal probation office. Suggs, who pleaded guilty to interference with a flight crew in January, was ordered to pay $4,400 in restitution to Southwest Airlines.

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