An Alaska Airlines Boeing 727 rolling for takeoff at 100 m.p.h. struck and killed a man on the runway at Sky Harbor International Airport Sunday night.
The pilot of the plane, bound for Tucson with 31 passengers on board, felt a bump and returned to the terminal, Rick Martinez, an airport spokesman, said.
Pilot Michael Townsend thought the unidentified man had committed suicide, Martinez said.
Passengers said the plane, Flight 608, swerved to the right. They then heard a thud and smelled what appeared to be hot brakes or tires.
The incident forced the closure of the southern runway for several hours.