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He Threw Himself In The Madman's Path

Posted on Friday, May 30 at 07:07 by polemarch1

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Mr. Finlay, 30, originally from Fort McMurray, Alta., but now living in the Australian island state of Tasmania, said yesterday that he was reading a magazine when a middle-aged man in a suit rushed up the aisle shortly after the Qantas flight took off.
"I was just paying attention to the magazine when I heard a large scream," he told the National Post yesterday. "All of a sudden I saw this guy stabbing the attendant ... I got splattered with blood."
The man had attempted to break into the cockpit of the jet in what officials believe was an apparent attempt to crash the plane.
Mr. Finlay told the Post he launched himself at the 40-year-old man, who was struggling with a flight attendant blocking his way to the front of the plane.
"It all happened in seconds -- I just reacted," he said in an interview from his home in the Tasmanian town of Launceston.
"There were heaps of stabs as fast as he could go. I tackled him to the ground and six people or so others also tackled him to the ground."
Mr. Finlay said his training from seven years in the Canadian army paid off.
"The more I think about it, the more I think it helped," he said.
"It helped me react quickly ... and I knew how to take an individual down and keep him down."
Two flight attendants were seriously wounded in the attack and as soon as the would-be hijacker was subdued, Mr. Finlay, who trained as a paramedic after leaving the Canadian Forces in 1996, administered first aid to the injured staff and passengers.
"There were people screaming and crying, and there was a real commotion going on," he said. "There were large amounts of blood coming out of [the flight attendant's] head."
But he said the injured flight attendant was the real hero in the drama.
Mr. Finlay, who referred to the hijacker as "Mr. Idiot," said the man was bound with restraints after he was subdued.
"He's an idiot for trying to do what he was attempting," Mr. Finlay said. "What kind of a political statement could you make on a flight to Tasmania?"
The man told police interrogators "God had spoken to him."
As well as the two sharpened sticks, the man was also carrying an aerosol can and a lighter to use as a makeshift flamethrower, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The man called out "God's will" or "Armageddon" when he was interrogated after his arrest and began talking about "God and the end of the world," the paper reported.
David Mark Robinson, 40, of Melbourne, an unemployed computer analyst, appeared briefly in court in that city this morning, charged with attempting to hijack an aircraft and two counts of violence against the crew of an aircraft.
Passenger Rose Sherwell said the hijacker was conservatively dressed in a brown suit with white pinstripes, was clean-shaven, well-built and very strong.
"I can't believe how lucky we were. It was terrifying. We were all stunned," she said.
"The flight attendant was trying to push him back, and they were wrestling, and the attendant had his head covered in blood. Three men jumped out of their seats straight away. There was no sound whatsoever. No one said anything."
The wooden stakes were 15 to 18 centimetres long and were carved to a sharp point.
Stephen Cato, an Australian Federal Police agent, said no motive had been established for the attempted hijacking of the flight, which was carrying 47 passengers from Melbourne to Tasmania.
"We believe he was trying to take over the plane," Mr. Cato said.
John Anderson, the Australian Transport Minister, described the man as "less than stable" and said the attack did not appear linked to terrorism.
"He apparently headed for the cabin and seemed to be intent upon trying to force a nasty outcome," Mr. Anderson said. "If you call an attempt to crash an aircraft, you might call that a hijacking."
However, the Transport Minister said the wooden weapons had gone through security checks unnoticed, calling the oversight a "lesson about unforeseen tools being used."
"We'll leave no stone unturned; plainly we don't want to see a repeat of this," Mr. Anderson said.
The attack happened about 10 minutes into the flight from Melbourne for Tasmania.
The Boeing 717 was forced to return to Melbourne, where police arrested the man.
The injured flight attendants, a man in his 30s and a woman in her 20s, were hospitalized in stable condition.
Australia is currently on a heightened level of terrorism alert in the aftermath of the Iraq war, in which it took part with U.S. and other forces.
Geoff Dixon, the Qantas chief executive, said the man "never got to the cockpit," adding the door was locked, but was not a reinforced security model.
Mr. Dixon said two passengers also were slightly injured as they restrained and bound the man.

Note: CREDIT: Cameron Tandy, Herald Sun (Melbourne)

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