ORLANDO, Fla. - A man from Rhode Island was arrested after claiming his girlfriend had a bomb while on a flight out of Orlando, U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg announced Thursday.
Evan Sims was charged with false information and threats regarding the possession of an explosive on an airplane. If he's convicted, he could face up to five years in federal prison.
Sims and his girlfriend were onboard a flight from Orlando to Providence, Rhode Island, on Tuesday that had to make an unplanned landing in Jacksonville due to a "passenger disturbance" on the plane and potential bomb threat, according to federal investigators.
That incident was between Sims and his girlfriend.
Before Breeze Airways Flight 717 took off, Sims and his girlfriend and travel companion got into an argument, according to authorities.
Photo: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office
"Sims told his travel companion that he had never heard of the airline for the flight and that he hoped the airplane did not ‘go down.’ Sims stated that they would be ‘gone with the wind,’" according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Sims reportedly made comments earlier during the boarding process, complaining about the emergency doors and windows. He even questioned the flight crew about the emergency life raft that was in the overhead storage compartment, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"Sims’s travel companion and the surrounding passengers were uncomfortable with Sims’s statements and Sims’s travel companion asked Sims to stop making his comments," the press release said.
After the flight had taken off from Orlando International Airport just before 4:30 p.m., Sims reportedly got out of his seat and exclaimed that he wanted to get off the plane, officials said. That's when he allegedly said that his girlfriend had a bomb.
His remarks triggered the flight crew to declare an emergency and divert to Jacksonville.
MORE FLORIDA HEADLINES:
- Air Force sergeant from Central Florida among 8 killed in Osprey crash in Japan
- Florida man dies after drinking Panera Bread’s caffeinated ‘Charged Lemonade,’ according to lawsuit
- Fans can meet ‘Stranger Things’ stars at MEGACON Orlando in 2024
- Florida man behind viral 'Booty Patrol' truck hit with criminal charges, records show
After the plane made a safe landing at Jacksonville International Airport around 6 p.m., passengers and crew were deplaned to make way for the bomb squad to investigate, the report said. No hazardous material was found, and the involved parties – Sims and his girlfriend – were interviewed by police.
The report also said that although the couple were in a dating relationship, the girlfriend had an active restraining order against Sims, who she was onboard the flight with and traveling with.
Authorities said Sims was arrested for violating the restraining order and was transported to the Duval County Jail. The charges from the U.S. Attorney's Office on Thursday are additional.
The girlfriend was eventually released from FBI custody and continued on with her travels.
"Safety is our top priority, and we take threats of any kind very seriously. We are committed to assisting law enforcement with the investigation into this incident," Breeze added.
Breeze Airways said it provided overnight accommodation for all impacted passengers and flew them to their original destination.