Thursday, December 23, 2010
Poultry problems: Unraveling a mystery


Every now and then, an iReport catches our eye and it's hard to know the specific reason for it at first. That was certainly the case with an image from Tuesday, December 21. It showed two men sitting in an airplane seat, laughing about something. The headline? "Chicken Bandits!" The description? Briefly typed out by someone probably in a hurry while traveling. The submission was a mystery waiting to be unraveled.


We did some digging. The iReporter, Rhonda Noonan, explained the situation to us while she checked in for her connecting flight in Houston, Texas. She'd flown out of Lafayette, Louisiana, earlier that day to begin a trip to Rhode Island, but her exit was delayed because of a suspicious device. The entire airport had been evacuated because of the device, which later turned out to be frozen poultry in a duffel bag. Her own flight was affected, and she said she was even on the same plane as the man with the icy bird. Hence, the photo of the laughing men. She sent me another photo of one of the men, who appeared to be laughing like someone who has just been caught carrying poultry in his duffel bag.


"It was kind of a hassle because we were all afraid we were going to miss our flight," Noonan said of the delays. "It was just kind of a mess for a frozen chicken."


So we were left with still more questions to be answered: Why would a frozen chicken look suspicious? Why carry a frozen chicken in the first place? We reached out to local police, Lafayette Regional Airport staff and, finally, Lt. Craig Stansbury, a public information officer with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office. He told us that a man had carried a stuffed chicken on board an airplane in a carry-on bag, and it created a suspicious X-ray that forced the evacuation of the whole airport. There were two things about the chicken that made it unique: First, it was stuffed, making it look more solid in the X-ray. Second, it was sitting next to a hunter's headlamp and appeared to have wires coming out of it. Together, the two items combined to make a strange mass with wires coming out, and that was scary to find on the X-ray. We don't know exactly what was inside the bird, but Noonan told me she heard the man say there was Cajun etouffee inside. Stansbury said the carry-on might have been unusual, but the wires were what really got the technician's attention.


"I know the outcome to some might have seemed humorous, but the technician was probably on his toes," Stansbury said.


And so, Stansbury says, this was a case of being better safe than sorry, adding, "If I was on the flight out of there, I'd say yeah, that's OK with me."


It's good to hear that Noonan was finally on her way, and we're thrilled that she thought to share her story with us. Just goes to show you, news can happen when you least expect it. What do you think about this story? What's your packing strategy? Don't be chicken; share your thoughts in the comments area below.

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