Pastor Matt, Krystal, and Mikaila Wyatt
A teenage girl traveling from Sacramento, Calif. to Walla Walla, Wash. on Aug. 5 trusted her instincts during a layover in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
She noticed a man following her too closely for too long, staring at her too hard, and making her uncomfortable. After hours of noticing his unusual attention to her, she had enough. She called her parents in tears.
It was the Alaska Airlines crew that made sure she got home safely, but her experience is a lesson for all teens traveling alone: Trust your instincts, and find an adult that you can trust. Here’s her story:
Mikaila Wyatt was looking around the airport concourse for something to eat, when she saw a man walk by her in the opposite direction.
According to Mikaila’s father, who posted the entire account on Facebook, the man stared at his daughter and then turned around and followed her closely.
“Close enough that she could feel his presence,” wrote Matthew Wyatt, who is a church pastor. Wyatt learned about the situation when he got a tearful call from his daughter: “There’s a man coming after me,” Mikaila told her dad. She was so scared, she could barely articulate more.
“Our hearts both stopped. Here’s the story and why Alaska Airlines has become our favorite airline,” wrote Wyatt.
It’s a story that all parents sending their college students off on an airplane by themselves as they return to school should heed:
“While my daughter was looking for something to eat, a man was walking by coming from the opposite direction. As they passed, the man stopped and started staring at my daughter. He then turned around and followed her close enough that she could feel his presence. She got on the train that took her to her gate, and he got on with her. Standing next to her, he got on the phone and started talking in hushed tones. He followed her all the way to her gate before leaving. She breathed a sigh of relief until the man returned a half hour later and sat near her. She realized that he had a plane ticket to Walla Walla and would be flying with her.
“This man wouldn’t stop staring at her, so my daughter got up and started walking away. The man followed her. She was so scared that she went up to a complete stranger and asked to stand with her. The lady told her that she needed to contact security right away. Not knowing the next step, my daughter realized that the plane was about to board. My daughter’s boarding group was group D. As she stood up to get in line, the man stood up and went right behind my daughter. He was so close that my daughter could look down and saw that his ticket said he was in group A…. He was already supposed to be boarding.”
As passengers walked outside to board the plane, Mikaila approached one of the ground crew members and tearfully asked him for help.
“She tried explaining through her tears what was happening. He immediately sprung to action and took her to a safe room where they calmed her down and asked what had happened. After she had explained the situation, 7 men who work for the airport walked her onto the plane that was already boarded. One of the men even tried to buy a ticket to ride with her to Walla Walla and then fly back just to make sure she was safe. The pilot assured the man and my daughter that he would keep her safe. He brought her into the cockpit and told her that she would be sitting up front next to a flight attendant the entire flight, and that he would make sure that she was the first to get off the plane.
“Not only did this pilot make sure that she got off the plane first, but he personally walked her off the plane and walked her through the terminal until he was sure that she was safe with me and my wife,” Wyatt wrote.
Pastor Wyatt said he didn’t know the man’s intentions, but he did notice that he stood close to the family in the baggage claim area of the Walla Walla airport.
“My daughter was so scared that she hid behind me and a pole. After I turned around to look at him, I saw that he had left. He didn’t have a bag to pick up so we don’t know why he was waiting at the baggage terminal.”
“As a father, I am so grateful to Alaska airlines, the ground personnel at SeaTac airport, and especially pilot Matt for taking the steps to make sure my little girl came home to us safe. You have made us a customer for life,” Wyatt wrote.
As for the stranger, the airline has his name and was handling the matter.