BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CBS13/AP) – A Connecticut couple is suing US Airways and an affiliate for allowing a California man now charged with kidnapping to fly their 14-year-old daughter to Sacramento last year.
The Hamden, Connecticut, couple is accusing Arizona-based US Airways and affiliate Piedmont Airlines of negligence and infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit was moved to federal court in Bridgeport last week after initially filed in state court.
Authorities say 29-year-old Nathan Salas of Merced, California, met the girl online and flew her on a US Airways flight from New Haven to Sacramento International Airport, where he was arrested. The girl was unharmed. Salas is detained on $250,000 bail in Connecticut on kidnapping and other charges. His attorney declined to comment.
The girl’s parents called police on August 19, 2013 after she disappeared, leaving behind a suicide note. Through the course of their investigation, detectives tracked a number in her phone back to Salas. Her parents said they didn’t know Salas and hadn’t given the girl permission to leave.
Salas admitted to forging a relationship with a 14-year-old Connecticut girl online during a CBS13 jailhouse interview, often chatting with her on webcam. He says the relationship wasn’t sexual and he never saw her without her clothes on.
It was a platonic friendship, he says. Then the teen started telling him about alleged verbal abuse and neglect.
“‘My dad doesn’t pay attention to me, my mom doesn’t pay attention to me, my dad is always yelling at me.’”
Salas says after a number of conversations, he believed the girl may be in danger.
“I thought, you know, I can’t leave her in a situation like that.”
Investigators contacted airport dispatch after learning the two might be arriving in Sacramento, and got information about their flight.
“He absolutely knew she was 14 years old,” said Sacramento County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Ramos, “and I’d be hard pressed to think that anyone could that think what he did, with her in flying her across the country to pursue life happily ever after with him would be legal.”
A US Airways spokesman says the airline doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.