A Hawaii-bound flight was delayed more than an hour Friday morning at Oakland International Airport when grisly crime-scene photos from a teenage passenger's forensics science project were accidentally shared to the phones of other passengers, causing alarm, authorities said.
At about 7 a.m., as Hawaiian Airlines Flight 23 pulled away from the gate and moved toward the runway, a 16-year-old passenger seated with her mother tried to send the photos to her mom's cell phone, Sgt. Ray Kelly, Alameda County Sheriff's Department spokesman, said.
"It was her mom's first day with an iPhone and they were trying to use the AirDrop app to share the photos between each other, but the photos accidentally went to at least 15 other passengers," Kelly said.
Alarmed travelers alerted the flight crew, who contacted the pilot, who decided to return the plane to the gate. Sheriff's deputies met the plane and interviewed the teenager and her mother, soon discovering it was an accidental photo share, Kelly said.
"The other passengers were vigilant and did the right thing by reporting something that looked pretty bad," Kelly said. "Fortunately it turned out to be nothing more than a mistake."
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The flight eventually lifted off at about 8:30 a.m., but without the teen and her mother.
In a statement from Hawaiian Airlines, a spokesperson said, "In order to resume the flight and minimize the inconvenience to our guests, the teenager and family were re-booked on a later flight while the incident was investigated."
That was not the only incident on the flight, though. Halfway through the flight from Oakland to Hawaii, someone accidentally released pepper spray in the front of the plane.
"The flight attendant, they were trying to make announcements and stuff and her eyes were tearing up and coughing so bad," said passenger Kevin Olson.
About 40 first-class passengers had to be directed to the back of the plane to try to escape the fumes.
"People started picking up sweaters, they were covering their faces," said passenger Nicholas Andrade. "People were shouting 'drop the masks ... give us some air.'"
Paramedics treated 12 passengers and three flight attendants for respiratory problems.