A former Canadian soldier helped foiled a hijacker armed with sharpened pieces of wood who tried to force his way into the cockpit of an Australian jetliner yesterday, and then administered first-aid to flight attendants injured in the fracas.
"I remember hearing a girl scream really loudly," Canadian Derek Finlay, 30, said in an interview today from outside Melbourne. "The stewardess tackled one of the passengers — the hijacker.
"The hijacker was stabbing her in the head with some type of device. As they tumbled by me I basically got up and jumped on them and assisted in the situation."
The Qantas Airways flight had just taken off from Melbourne en route to Tazmania when the man tried to storm the cockpit of the Boeing 717.
Mr. Finlay said that as he, the hijacker and flight attendants rolled down the aisle toward the cockpit, about four or five other passengers jumped on the man from their seats to try to immobilize him. The man had aerosol cans and other wooden weapons.
Police believe the man planned to use the aerosol can and a lighter as a makeshift flamethrower to disable the pilot.
He shouted threats as he attempted to storm the locked cockpit, authorities said.
Once the man was subdued, Mr. Finlay said he pulled Greg Khan, 38, the chief flight steward, off of the man. Mr. Khan had "major stab wounds" and lost approximately a litre of blood, said Mr. Finlay, who served in Sarajevo with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.
"There was a lot of blood flying around. I pulled him up to the front of the aircraft and administered first aid," he said. Mr. Findlay, originally from Fort McMurray, Alta., is now a commercial diver and a St. John's Ambulance paramedic. He was taking the flight to return to Tazmania, where he now lives.
Once the hijacker was pinned down by five or six people and then restrained, Mr. Findlay was more focused on ensuring that Mr. Khan survived.
While some have hailed him as a hero, he said the credit goes to Mr. Khan.
"While I was administering first aid . . . Greg was directing the air crew still, in this state. I was truly shocked at how he could maintain consciousness. It was quite amazing how the Qantas crew pulled together."
David Mark Robinson of Melbourne was charged today with hijacking and committing violence against a crew member. The hijacking charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Mr. Robinson, a 40-year-old unemployed computer analyst, did not request bail in Melbourne Magistrates Court and was not required to enter a plea Friday morning.
Federal Transport Minister John Anderson described the man as "less than stable" and said the attack did not appear linked to terrorism.