A scorpion fell from the overhead bin of a United Airlines plane over the weekend and stung a man before flight attendants could grab the arachnid, according to multiple reports.
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Richard Bell told CBC News that he was eating lunch on a flight from Houston to Calgary, Alberta, on Sunday when he felt something fall into his hair from above.
“I picked it up and it was a scorpion,” he told the news network.
He grabbed the scorpion by its tail and avoided a sting, he said, but dropped it when another passenger warned him that the scorpion was potentially venomous.
“I dropped it on my plate and that's when it stung me,” he told CBC News. “It got my nail, mostly."
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He flung the scorpion onto the floor, where a flight attendant captured it in a cup. Flight crew members flushed the creature before the plane landed and another passenger, a nurse, gave Bell a painkiller until he could get medical treatment, CBC News reported.
A spokesman for United told CNBC that the flight’s crew got in touch with a physician on the ground as soon as they became aware of the incident. Medics met Bell at the airport, the news station reported.
Bell’s injuries were not life-threatening.
It was not clear how the scorpion got onto the plane. Bell told CBC News that he believes it might have been hiding in a guitar brought on board by travelers who recently visited Guatemala or Honduras.
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His wife, Linda Bell, told CBC News on Thursday that the airline gave the couple flight travel credits to make up for the incident.
United has faced heavy criticism in the days since Kentucky physician David Dao was forcibly removed from a flight to make room for airline employees. Dao’s attorney said at a news conference Thursday that the April 9 incident left Dao with a severe concussion, a broken nose and two missing teeth.
Three officers from the Chicago Department of Aviation were placed on administrative leave as authorities investigate the Dao incident.
United CEO Oscar Munoz has apologized for the incident and promised to review the company’s training procedures. The company is offering compensation in the form of money, travel credits or miles to all passengers on Dao’s flight.