Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa man accused of assaulting flight attendants to remain in federal custody

SEATTLE — The Tampa man accused of disrupting a Seattle-to-Beijing flight a week ago by trying to open an exit door and assaulting flight attendants waived his detention hearing Thursday and will remain in federal custody.

Joseph D. Hudek IV, 23, has been charged with one count of interference with flight crew members for allegedly assaulting two flight attendants on Delta Air Lines Flight 129 on July 6.

His attorney, Robert Flennaugh II, said in court Thursday that 185 letters of support have been written on Hudek's behalf. However, Hudek agreed he would remain in custody rather than seek his release, which federal prosecutors have opposed.

Hudek, who was sitting in first class and traveling on a "dependent pass," ordered one beer before takeoff and showed no signs of intoxication, FBI Special Agent Caryn Highley wrote in a criminal complaint filed Friday.

About an hour into the flight, Hudek — a 23-year-old Plant High School graduate — briefly went into the lavatory, according to the complaint. He then went back out and asked one of the flight attendants a question in the galley area, the complaint says.

Hudek returned to the lavatory for about two minutes. After he walked out, he lunged toward the emergency exit door, grabbed the handle and tried to open it, the complaint alleges.

RELATED: Friends baffled by Plant High grad's arrest in melee aboard China flight

The flight attendant and a second flight attendant tried to subdue him, but Hudek allegedly shoved them away and moved the emergency release lever halfway up.

One flight attendant later reported that the door could have opened if it had been fully disarmed at the altitude they were flying over the northwest end of Vancouver Island, B.C.

Attendants asked passengers for help as one of them called the cockpit to alert the flight crew of the emergency. The pilot notified the Federal Aviation Administration of the threat, and the flight carrying 210 passengers and 11 crew was diverted back to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Meanwhile, Hudek allegedly punched one of the attendants twice in the face, hit a male passenger in the head with a wine bottle and punched him several times.

RELATED: FBI: Delta flight attendant smashed disruptive Tampa man with a wine bottle on flight

A flight attendant grabbed two wine bottles and hit Hudek with both, breaking one over his head.

The male passenger then put Hudek in a headlock, but Hudek freed himself as several other passengers from the first-class cabin jumped into the fight to restrain him, the charges allege.

Hudek was eventually restrained with zip ties, but he "remained extremely combative, and multiple passengers were needed to restrain Hudek and keep him restrained until the plane landed safely back at Sea-Tac Airport," at 7:10 p.m., the criminal complaint states.

One flight attendant and a male passenger were treated for severe facial injuries.

The flight left Sea-Tac Airport for Beijing again just after midnight on its scheduled 11 ½-hour flight, according to FlightAware.com.

Hudek faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Tampa man accused of assaulting flight attendants to remain in federal custody 07/14/17 [Last modified: Friday, July 14, 2017 6:55am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday

    Blogs

    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  2. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start

    College

    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  5. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)

    Nation

    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102