Flight to Hawaii declares emergency after pepper spray goes off in cabin

Flight to Hawaii declares emergency after pepper spray goes off in cabin

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More than a dozen passengers and crew members had to be treated for respiratory issues on Friday when pepper spray, which was illegally brought on board, was accidentally triggered in the cabin of a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Oakland to Maui.

Flight 23 was cruising somewhere over the Pacific Ocean when passengers in the front of the Boeing 767 began to smell an odor and experience respiratory issues, the airline told ABC News.

The pilots declared an emergency and got priority clearance into Maui. The flight landed safely.

This Friday, Aug. 31, 2018 photo provided by Nicholas Andrade shows people gathered in a back galley on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Oakland, Calif., to Kahului, Hawaii, after a can of pepper spray went off inside the plane.AP
This Friday, Aug. 31, 2018 photo provided by Nicholas Andrade shows people gathered in a back galley on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Oakland, Calif., to Kahului, Hawaii, after a can of pepper spray went off inside the plane.

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During the incident, passengers were moved to the back of the plane. First responders treated 12 passengers and three flight attendants for respiratory issues. They have all been released, authorities said.

Once the plane landed, it was determined that the issues experienced by passengers were as a result of a leaking can of pepper spray that was brought on board illegally by a passenger, police said. Pepper spray is banned by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from all carry-on luggage, though 4-ounce or smaller containers can be in checked baggage.

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The passenger is being interviewed by authorities in order to figure out how it got through security, police said. The container was about 1.5 ounces.

The Maui Police Department is the lead in investigating the case.

Hawaiian Airlines is giving all passengers on the plane a $500 travel credit.

This Friday, Aug. 31, 2018 photo provided by Nicholas Andrade shows a fire truck outside a Hawaiian Airlines jet in Kahului, Hawaii, after a can of pepper spray went off inside the plane during a flight from Oakland, Calif. AP
This Friday, Aug. 31, 2018 photo provided by Nicholas Andrade shows a fire truck outside a Hawaiian Airlines jet in Kahului, Hawaii, after a can of pepper spray went off inside the plane during a flight from Oakland, Calif.

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating the incident, it told ABC News.

ABC News has reached out to the TSA for comment on the apparent failed security screening at Oakland International Airport.

Civil penalties for bringing pepper spray on an airplane can be $1,960, though it can be higher based on the circumstances of the case. The penalty for bringing a weapon to an airport could be a $13,066 fine, according to the TSA.

There were 256 passengers and 10 crew members on board the flight.

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