Delta Flight to China Returns to Seattle After Passenger Attacks Flight Attendant

By Paul Riegler on 7 July 2017
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IMG_1868 (2)A Delta Air Lines flight returned to Seattle several hours after departure for Beijing after a passenger assaulted a flight attendant.

Delta Flight 129, a Boeing 767-300, left Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at 5:07 p.m. local time. Perry Cooper, a spokesman for the airport, said that the man involved in the attack, identified as 23-year-old Joseph Hudek IV, was seated in seat 1D the aircraft’s business-class cabin. The incident took place roughly 45 minutes into the flight.

According to the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. attorney responsible for prosecuting the case in federal district court, Hudek was a non-revenue passenger traveling as a family member of a Delta employee. He had ordered a beer as a pre-departure beverage but had not consumed any other alcoholic beverages while on board and did not appear intoxicated, according to the complaint.

Approximately one hour into the flight, following a visit to the forward lavatory, Hudek grabbed the handle of the right exit door, 1R, and tried to open it. Two flight attendants grabbed him to prevent him from continuing, although the door could not open at the plane’s then-current altitude, and Hudek pushed them both away. He did succeed in disarming the door, moving the lever to a 90° angle, which could have allowed the door to open at a lower altitude, flight attendants told investigators.

A full-fledged melee ensued, flight attendants attempted to stop Hudek by striking him on the head with wine bottles although this didn’t apparently seem to impact him. According to the complaint, after being struck by one of the bottles, he stated “Do you know who I am?

Eventually, several passengers helped restrain Hudek in plastic handcuffs.

One flight attendant and one other passenger were injured and taken to hospital.

The plane landed back in Seattle at 7:50 p.m. local time.

Hudek is in custody without bail, and faces up to a $250,000 fine and 20 years in prison.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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