Willa Junior, the baggage handler who forced an Alaska Airlines flight to make an emergency landing last week after he fell asleep in the plane’s cargo hold and started to bang and scream for help, tells ABC News that he feared for his life.

At some point in the process of loading baggage on a Los Angeles-bound Alaska Airlines flight out of Seattle, Junior fell asleep. “In the cargo...I was exhausted...so I dozed off...” Junior explained to the news network. Shortly after takeoff, he was awoken by a suitcase falling on his head.

Panicked, Junior first tried calling his employer Menzies Aviation, the company Alaska Airlines contracted to provide baggage services, but the person who picked up apparently thought he was a prank caller and hung up. He then called 911, telling the dispatcher, “Hello? I’m trapped in this plane!” before the call cut out. Fearing he might die in the plane’s cargo hold, he texted his mother, “I love you mom.” After banging and screaming from the cargo hold for help, frightening passengers and getting the attention of the plane’s crew, the pilot returned the plane to the airport, where Junior was rescued.

He was circumspect with ABC News when they asked why he took a nap on the plane in the first place. “I mean, when I first started the job, we took naps...” he said. Junior said he’s still employed by Menzies Aviation, though he admits he’s not sure for how much longer.

The biggest lesson Junior says he learned? “Don’t doze off on planes.”


Images via ABC News. Contact the author at aleksander@gawker.com .