A can of pepper spray went off inside a plane headed from Oakland, California, to Maui today, requiring emergency help for several people aboard, Hawaiian Airlines said.
Twelve passengers and three flight attendants were treated for respiratory issues and released by emergency responders at the airport in Kahului, Hawaii, airline spokesman Alex Da Silva said.
A passenger illegally brought the pepper spray on the plane carrying 256 passengers and 10 crew members, but it appears it discharged accidentally, Da Silva said in a statement.
The flight crew of the Boeing 767 declared an emergency to get priority to land at the airport in Hawaii.
Flight attendants told the affected passengers to move to the back of the plane where the air wasn’t bothering people.
Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said in an email that her agency and Maui police are investigating. She said the canister held about 1.5 ounces. The fine for bringing pepper spray onto an airplane can reach $1,960 or higher, Farbstein said.