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Flight attendant ‘broke wine bottle over man’s head’

July 10, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A seemingly crazed first class passenger on a Delta Air Lines international flight tried to force open an aircraft door and refused to desist, even after a flight attendant broke a full litre bottle of wine over his head, a criminal complaint alleges.

A litre bottle of wine weighs about 1.5 kilograms.

Delta flight 129 from Seattle to Beijing turned back about an hour after take-off on Thursday evening after a disruptive passenger allegedly assaulted a crew member. The incident left the assailant, the victim and another passenger injured.

The punch-up that developed aboard the aircraft reached such a pitch that a flight attendant whacked the disruptive passenger over the head with two wine bottles, the complaint states.

Seattle police arrested passenger Joseph Daniel Hudek IV after the plane returned to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The suspect, who is from Florida and aged 23, made an initial appearance in a US federal court last Friday in Seattle. He is charged with interfering with flight crew, a serious crime that carries a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment and fines up to USD 250,000.

The Delta B767-300ER was carrying 210 passengers and 11 crew.

In the criminal complaint against Hudek, FBI special agent Caryn Highley states that Hudek was flying in first class on a dependent travel pass – commonly given to family members of people employed by the airline. The young man had ordered just one beer and appeared to be sober, the FBI agent wrote.

Hudek then entered one of the plane’s toilets and about two minutes later, for reasons unknown, sprang out “and lunged toward the forward right exit door of the aircraft, grabbed the handle, and attempted to open it”.

As the plane was cruising at 32,000 feet it would not have been possible for Hudek to open the door, but he did move the door handle and cabin crew trying to subdue him signalled to passengers they needed help. Passengers volunteered.

FBI photo of aftermath in Delta galley


In the fight that ensued, Hudek is alleged to have punched a flight attendant twice in the face and hit another passenger with a bottle of wine. (It was red dessert wine; FBI special agent Highley noted those two details in the criminal complaint.) A flight attendant then responded in like measure, grabbing two wine bottles and hitting Hudek over the head with them, breaking one.

“Hudek did not seem impacted by the breaking of a full-litre red wine bottle over his head, and instead, shouted ‘Do you know who I am?’” or something to that effect, according to the complaint.

Several first-class passengers, fighting on the side of the flight attendants, helped restrain Hudek. One of the attendants, approaching from behind, got Hudek in a head lock, but Hudek managed to get out of the choke hold, the report says. Finally, crew slipped zip-tie handcuffs on Hudek, who remained “extremely combative” after the pilot turned the plane around and headed back to Seattle. Hudek needed to be restrained by numerous passengers until the flight landed, the complaint says.

It hardly sounds the sort of experience any first class passenger anticipates.

A flight attendant and a passenger were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Written by Peter Needham

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