Man Dragged Off United Flight Gives First Interview

Dr. David Dao says he's glad the incident led to policy changes
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2019 6:26 PM CDT

Dr. David Dao, who was dragged from a United Airlines flight in a video that went viral, is speaking publicly for the first time since the April 2017 incident. He tells ABC News he doesn't fully remember being forcibly removed—after an airline employee told him the flight was overbooked and he would need to leave his seat, in which he was already sitting with his seatbelt fastened, he refused to get up and was on the phone with a friend asking for advice when he was grabbed and dragged. When he hit his head on the low ceiling, he says, he was knocked unconscious and doesn't remember anything else until he came to at the hospital. What followed were a "horrible" few months in which he had to learn to walk again and was even put on suicide watch.

To this day, he struggles with balance and concentration, has sleep issues, and can only run a fraction of the miles he used to log, but he says he views his experience overall as a "positive" one because it led to policy changes at United. "Everything happens with a reason," he said, adding that he holds no ill will toward the people who actually dragged him: "They have a job to do. They had to do it." He has also kept a vow he made to God: that if he recovered, he would devote himself to charity work. Since the incident, Dao—who was trying to return to Kentucky for the opening of a clinic he founded for US veterans at the time of the United incident—has installed solar power in villages with no electricity in Cambodia and his native Vietnam, and helped Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas. (The officer who dragged Dao from the plane sued last year.)

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