Flyer Charged in Jump to Tarmac; Family Says He Thought Someone Was Trying to Kill Him

A man was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday morning after jumping out of an airplane's galley door to the tarmac as the plane was taxiing to a gate, police said, as his family believes he may have been grappling with mental illness.

Daniel Ramirez, 30, was charged with two counts of trespassing, accused of opening the back door of the plane he had been on and jumping out as it landed at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport. The Southwest Airlines flight had been arriving from Colorado Springs on Saturday morning.

After jumping out, Ramirez made his way to a nearby fire department and locked himself inside, authorities said. The flight's captain stopped the plane after the incident and contacted air traffic control. All the remaining passengers were able to get to their gate once authorities arrived.

"After a few minutes, firefighters were able to get the adult male to unlock the door where he was then evaluated, treated, and transported to a local hospital for a lower extremity injury," Captain Todd Keller with the Phoenix Fire Department told Fox 11.

man jumps off southwest flight
A man was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, after jumping out of a Southwest Airlines plane as it was taxiing to a gate, police said. Above, a Southwest plane taxies from a gate at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on October 11, 2021, in Maryland. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Members of Ramirez's family spoke with ABC 15 on Saturday and said that he had told them that he feared for his life. He had reportedly been working a tiling job in Colorado Springs, but flew home early because he believed someone was after him and might try to kill him.

"I don't want him to be portrayed as some oh ... some crazy guy that jumped out off the plane," Theresa Padilla, Ramirez's mother who video-called with him prior to the flight, said. "You know. I mean, he was running and hiding because he thought somebody was after him."

The video call with Ramirez reportedly lasted for hours, ending only when he had to board the plane.

"We were on the phone with him for seven hours," sister-in-law Emily Luevano said. "He was paranoid saying someone's going to get me. Someone's going to kill me."

"I told him, I said ... we're not going to leave you alone," Padilla continued. "We're not going to leave you alone."

The family said that they want Ramirez to receive a mental evaluation before his case moves forward, having told the Phoenix Police Department that they believe he needs help. They also suspect that Ramirez could be dealing with a case of schizophrenia, on account of the family's history with the condition.

Ramirez's case remains under investigation.

Newsweek reached out to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office for comment.