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Southwest flight makes emergency landing at LAX after passenger 'choked' woman

Southwest flight makes emergency landing at LAX after passenger 'choked' woman
A Bay Area man was convicted of choking and assaulting a fellow passenger on a San Francisco-bound Southwest Airlines flight that was forced to make anemergencyreturn to Los Angeles last year. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

An altercation between two passengers on a Southwest plane forced a San Francisco-bound flight to turn around and make an emergency landing in Los Angeles on Sunday night, airport officials said.

Flight 2010 left Los Angeles International Airport about 10:30 p.m. and landed back at the airport about 15 minutes later because of a “rapidly escalating situation” involving two passengers who weren’t traveling together, Southwest Airlines said in a statement.

One person aboard tweeted that the dispute was over a passenger reclining a seat.

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Comedian Mark Curry, who hosts a radio show in San Francisco, told NBC Bay Area that he awoke to the victim's shouts.

"The woman was saying he grabbed her neck. 'He choked me, he choked me! He hit me in the head!'" Curry told the station.

Southwest described the incident as a "physical altercation by one passenger against another," and said the pilot opted to declare an emergency on the flight to give it priority to land over other in-bound flights.

The jet returned to a gate where law enforcement was waiting. One passenger was removed from the flight, and the remaining 136 passengers continued their journey to San Francisco just after midnight. The FBI is handling the investigation and did not arrest the passenger, officials said.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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