A Delta Air Lines flight crew was forced to act after a passenger became dangerously unruly. On a flight from Seattle to Beijing, a 23-year-old man lunged for an exit door, attempting to open it midflight according to a report from the Associated Press. Despite the efforts of multiple flight attendants attempting to intervene, the man was undeterred.
It wasn't until several passengers came to the aid of the flight crew, helping hold him long enough to place zip-tie restraints on him, that Joseph Daniel Hudek IV was subdued. Even then, the detained passenger remained combative, reported FBI Special Agent Caryn Highley in a probable cause statement.
In the statement, Special Agent Highley explained that Hudek was sitting in the first row of the first-class section of the Boeing 767. He was served only one beer before takeoff, but according to the flight attendant, he exhibited no signs of intoxication. While the plane was over the Pacific Ocean, about an hour after takeoff, Hudek went into the restroom and emerged quickly to ask the flight attendant a question before returning to the restroom.
According to the special agent's report, Hudek came out again only two minutes later when he suddenly lunged for the exit door and grabbing at the handle in an attempt to open it. Two flight attendants immediately tried to stop him, but he seemed unaffected as he pushed them away, punching one in the face. Several passengers joined in the struggle, and at least one passenger was struck in the head by Hudek with a red wine bottle. As the altercation continued, one flight attendant hit the man over the head with two wine bottles breaking at least one of them. Hudek appeared to be unfazed, Special Agent Highley reported.
In a statement, one flight attendant said, "Hudek did not seem impacted by the breaking of a full liter red wine bottle over his head, and instead shouted, ‘Do you know who I am?’ or something to that extent."
Once restrained with zip-ties, it still took multiple passengers to fully keep Hudek under control until the plane returned to Seattle where the Port of Seattle police arrested him. He appeared in U.S. District Court in Seattle, where he was charged with interfering with a flight crew. If convicted, Hudek could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. It is expected that he will remain in custody until his detention hearing on July 13.
While Joseph Daniel Hudek IV appeared to have sustained only minor injuries, one flight attendant and a passenger were taken to the hospital for severe facial injuries, though they are described as non-life-threatening according to a spokesman for the Port of Seattle, Perry Cooper.
One passenger, Dustin Jones, told CBS affiliate KIRO-TV that he saw Hudek being escorted into the terminal in a wheelchair after the plane landed. “He started yelling for help,” Jones said. “And so he turned the wheelchair over in the middle of the airport, screaming for people to help him, just being belligerent.”
In the report filed by FBI Special Agent Caryn Highley, Hudek was said to be traveling on a "dependent pass" which allows certain relatives of Delta employees to fly standby. According to a discovery made by KIRO-TV, Hudek's mother is a Delta employee.
The original flight was able to leave for Beijing later that same night.
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