Southwest Employee Becomes Girl’s Buddy During In-Flight Panic Attacks

Southwest Employee Becomes Girl’s Buddy During In-Flight Panic Attacks

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Southwest Attendent Calms Girl CC Craighton Miller Erika Swart FB

When a little girl with diabetes had a panic attack aboard a plane, sending her blood sugar level plummeting, a flight attendant took her by the arm and saved the day.

Nine-year-old Gabby Swart has Type 1 diabetes and severe anxiety over flying. Panic can cause her blood sugar to crash suddenly, with dangerous health consequences.

Flying with her mother and two younger siblings, who also needed attention, the plane flew through rough weather and turbulence.

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Southwest Airlines flight attendant Jovan “Garrick” Riley noticed the little girl getting nervous early in the flight and offered to help her mother keep her calm. He’d talk to her, bring her special drinks, and as the plane started descending through turbulence, sat with her for 30 minutes, helping keep her calm.

When the plane from Florida landed in New Jersey, he announced over the intercom that his new friend in the front row, Gabby, had overcame her fears of flying—and the passengers, who’d been watching the scene unfold, gave her a rousing round of applause.

Gabby’s mom, Erika, posted a picture of the little girl and the flight attendant to Southwest’s Facebook page telling their story.


“We are forever grateful to have met such a beautiful, selfless soul,” she wrote about Garrick’s care for her daughter.

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“I hope you get the recognition that you deserve,” Erica Surman Garrick responded in the comments on Facebook. “That was such a sweet gesture and potentially life saving when her blood sugar crashed. You are awesome.”

“Thank you Sir, for going above & beyond to make such a difference in this little girl’s life,” Debbie Pugh added.

Fly Some Kindness to Your Friends—Share It… (Photos: Erika Jeorgean Swart, Facebook; Craighton Miller, CC)