Exeter, New Hampshire, Man Honored for Subduing Erratic Man on United Flight
🔴 Francisco Torres of Leominster had been mumbling to himself during the flight from San Francisco
🔴 During a violent outburst, he tried to open the cabin door
🔴 Jeff Neil tackled Torres, and other passengers used zip ties to subdue him
The Exeter man who helped subdue a man who threatened to open the cabin door of a United flight was honored with a Citizens Award in a ceremony on Friday.
Jeff Neil, 52, told NBC Boston he was sitting in the seat behind Francisco Torres of Leominster, Massachusetts, on March 5. He had been mumbling to himself during much of the flight before his violent outburst on the plane headed from San Francisco to Boston.
Efforts by the flight crew to calm him down were unsuccessful, and he used a broken spoon to stab a flight attendant, according to NBC Boston.
Neil, a former bouncer, was behind Torres and took him down. Other passengers then helped subdue him and tie his hands and feet with zip ties.
"A reminder that everyday heroes live among us"
At a ceremony at Exeter's town offices attended by members of the Exeter Select Board and other members of the community, Exeter Police Chief Stephan R. Poulin said Neil's actions exemplified what it means to be both a hero and a leader.
“Mr. Neil’s actions that day are a reminder that everyday heroes live among us, here in Exeter and in communities all across the globe. They quietly go about their daily lives, but when a crisis unexpectedly presents itself and they feel compelled to act, they will respond without hesitation,” Poulin said.
Neil said he doesn't consider himself a hero, and was just in the right place at the right time.
“This is my home. I’ve lived here for 15-plus years. This is where I raised my kids. Having the chief of police recognizing me, I can’t tell you how much that means to me. I didn’t expect more than two to three people here, including my wife and myself."
Neil's wife Libby said she wasn't surprised her husband jumped into action.
“It was scary, but I really commend everyone on the flight. They were calm,” she said.
Jeff Neil works for a software company and volunteers as chairman of the board of directors for the Exeter Area YMCA.