Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No-contact order on wedding anniversary

Senator, wife kept apart after in-flight disturbance

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SASKATOON -- A 69-year-old senator from Manitoba and his 23-year-old wife marked their first anniversary -- the paper anniversary -- on Monday with a court document keeping the newlyweds apart.

Maygan Sensenberger has made headlines around the world since her arrest on a plane when it landed last Thursday in Saskatoon. Police alleged she caused a disturbance on the flight, yelled about bringing down the plane and threatened her spouse, Sen. Rod Zimmer.

But a witness says Sensenberger was simply worried about her husband's health and wanted him to get help for breathing problems he was having during the flight.

Sensenberger's family says it's not unusual her to be worried about her partner's health.

"She gets upset easy if anything's wrong with her husband," Sensenberger's 68-year-old grandmother, Rita, said Monday from her home in Collingwood, Ont.

"He is quite a bit older than Maygan and she does worry a lot about him... if she thought there was something wrong with Rod, she would be very, very upset."

The trouble started, fellow passenger Scott Wright said, when Sensenberger got upset after Zimmer started feeling tightness in his chest on an Air Canada flight from Ottawa to Saskatoon. Wright, a former ambulance attendant, volunteered when the crew asked for anyone with medical experience to help the senator.

The couple was sitting near the back of the plane, he said, and Sensenberger was emotionally distraught.

Wright said it sounded as if Zimmer was struggling to breathe. The senator told him his distress may have been caused by a previous medical condition.

The crew gave Zimmer oxygen and he started feeling better, but he and his wife fought over his condition.

"All of the frustration she expressed while I was there was targeted around the medical condition and the health of her husband. I never at any time felt threatened."

The crew asked Wright if he believed they needed to land early, but when Zimmer began to feel better, the decision was made to continue on to Saskatoon.

Even though Zimmer said he was feeling fine, Sensenberger continued to be upset, he said.

"She did pause to yell at one or two of the other passengers who were peering over or trying to see what was going on," Wright said. "There was the odd profanity offered."

He said Sensenberger didn't lash out physically at anyone. "The only grabbing and pushing I saw was between her and him as he was trying to calm her," Wright said.

Court records show police believe Sensenberger uttered threats against Zimmer and threatened to take down the plane. Sensenberger was arrested and charged with endangering the safety of the aircraft and causing a disturbance.

On Monday, their first-year wedding anniversary, according to their Facebook page, the judge released Sensenberger, but banned her from having contact with her husband.

Zimmer sat in the front row of the courtroom and left through a back door as his wife walked out the front and rushed by reporters into a waiting black car. She is to appear again today in a courtroom for domestic-violence cases.


-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 28, 2012 A5

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