Hawaii police arrest couple who boarded flight despite testing positive for coronavirus

Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
Courtney Peterson, 46, and Wesley Moribe, 42, of Wailua, Hawaii were arrested after boarding a flight home knowing they had tested positive for COVID-19.
Courtney Peterson and Wesley Moribe were arrested after boarding a flight home to Hawaii knowing they had tested positive for COVID-19. (Kauai Police Department )

A Hawaii couple were arrested for after they boarded a flight knowing they had tested positive for the coronavirus, Hawaii police said Wednesday.

Wesley Moribe, 41, and Courtney Paterson, 46, of Wailua, Hawaii, face charges of "reckless endangering" after they put fellow passengers "in danger of death," according to a statement from the Kauai Police Department.

Moribe and Paterson, who were traveling with a 4-year-old child, were scheduled to fly from San Francisco to Lihue on Sunday. Once they arrived at San Francisco International Airport, the airport's quarantine station instructed them to refrain from boarding their United Airlines flight and quarantine themselves.

Moribe and Paterson defied those instructions and boarded their flight anyway, Kauai police said.

Upon arrival at the Lihue Airport, the couple were identified and detained by Kauai police, who were equipped with personal protective gear. Moribe and Paterson each posted $1,000 bail.

The child was given to the care of a family member.

"The Kauai Police Department, working alongside our county and state partners, remain diligent in protecting the health and safety of our island,” said Kauai police chief Todd G. Raybuck in a statement. “We continue to request visitors and residents alike to follow the Governor’s Emergency Rules and take all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The couple have been banned from flying on United Airlines flights and the airline is investigating the incident, a spokesperson for the airline said Wednesday.

"The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have various policies and procedures in place as part of a multilayered approach to create a safer travel environment, including mandating that everyone onboard wears a mask," United Airlines said in a statement. "Prior to traveling, all United customers are required to complete a ‘Ready to Fly’ checklist acknowledging they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days."

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.