9-Year-Old Girl Has Panic Attack on Plane, Then Attendant Saves with “Special Drinks”

Gabby Swart, Erika Swart’s oldest daughter, suffers from severe flight anxiety as well as type 1 diabetes. So it was difficult for Erika to fly with Gabby and two younger children without the assistance of her husband.

When the plane took off, Gabby began to panic. She had plenty of difficulty throughout the trip and especially when the plane hit turbulence. Her blood sugar dramatically fell. Then, Garrick Riley, a Southwest flight attendant, stepped in to assist.

Erika Stwart holds Garrick Riley’s arm during flight. Source

He asked the young girl if she was okay, but she just replied, “I don’t know.”

Gabby was given drinks for the flight by Garrick. He sat next to her when she began to have trouble breathing and was starting to cry. He entertained her by answering all of her flight questions, and let her grip his arm during difficult moments.

Garrick suggested to continuously talk so that Gabby would be somehow distracted and won’t have any panic attacks. 

On a Facebook post, Erika posted about the good deed. She wrote

“This is Garrick, an employee of yours working flight 1264 flying from Orlando to Newark on Friday, July 8th and holding his arm is my 9 year old daughter, Gabby, a type 1 diabetic with severe flying anxiety.”

“Throughout the flight he tried making her laugh and bringing her special drinks,” Erika added. During extremely rough turbulence she began crying and grabbed his arm, he gently told her she could hang on as long as she needed to.”

When the plane was landing, Gabby’s sugar began to drop again. But Garrick was there to give her orange juice. The little girl asked if she could hold his arm until the landing was finished and the man said yes.

Upon exiting the plan, Garrick announced on the intercom that Gabby made it and that they were proud of her. The crew and the rest of the passengers clapped for her. Erika concluded her Facebook post saying, “We are forever grateful to have met such a beautiful, selfless soul.”

Garrick showed special care and attention to others as written in Ephesians 4:32 “Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

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