‘By God’s Good Grace’: Safe in Chicago, Passengers Recall Tense Flight After Threatening Message Found in Bathroom - NBC Chicago

‘By God’s Good Grace’: Safe in Chicago, Passengers Recall Tense Flight After Threatening Message Found in Bathroom

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    Passengers Recall Tense Flight After Threatening Notes Found

    Reunions happen all the time at O'Hare International Airport, but the ones on Tuesday were different because of the frightening ordeal that took place on one of the planes. Regina Waldroup reports. (Published Tuesday, June 12, 2018)

    Reunions happen all the time at O'Hare International Airport, but the ones on Tuesday were different because of the frightening ordeal that took place on one of the planes.

    The hugs were a little tighter and the smiles wider, after hours of uncertainty for those with loved ones aboard United Airlines flight 971.

    "He’s home safe, by God's good grace," parent Sharon Santopadre said with relief.

    The direct flight from Rome was headed to Chicago when several threatening messages were discovered in the bathroom.

    Laura Keehan was on the flight with her mom.

    "They came over speaker and said a concerning message had been written in bathroom and the person should come forward and identify themselves," she recalled.

    The flight crew told passengers not to panic. The plane was diverted to at an airport in Shannon, Ireland.

    Several students from Marian Central Catholic High School were on the plane.

    "We just said some prayers and held hands," Kevin Santopadre said.

    "The girl I was sitting next to (said) this is real, we need to call our parents and text them," Elizabeth Aragon said.

    Irish police interviewed all 207 passengers and took handwriting samples.

    But the culprit was never found.

    Passengers finally made it to Chicago Tuesday evening after a very eventful flight.

    "To have to hear those I love yous was just terrifying," Elizabeth's mother Karen Aragon said.

    The whole ordeal took about 30 hours.

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