Monday, September 24, 2018
Public safety

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.

Comments
Pasco deputies identify body of man found in wooded Wesley Chapel campsite

Pasco deputies identify body of man found in wooded Wesley Chapel campsite

WESLEY CHAPEL ó The Pasco County Sheriffís Office has identified a body discovered Saturday in a wooded area as a 60-year-old Hillsborough County man.Two people flagged down a deputy Saturday to report a decomposing body in the woods north of Beardsl...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
Deputy's wife texted 'Kirk has lost his mind' before murder-suicide, friend says

Deputy's wife texted 'Kirk has lost his mind' before murder-suicide, friend says

LAND O'LAKES -- Kristin Kellin got a series of disturbing text messages late Sunday from her friend, Samantha Keithley, who complained about her husband, Kirk. "Kirk has lost his mind Kristin," one text said. "He's literally losing it. He's been har...
Updated: 1 hour ago
John Jonchuck set for spring 2019 trial in death of daughter Phoebe

John Jonchuck set for spring 2019 trial in death of daughter Phoebe

CLEARWATER — The day John Jonchuck was supposed to go on trial in the murder of his 5-year-old daughter, attorneys met instead to discuss a new trial date. The trial scheduled to start Monday was delayed last week after Jonchuck’s attorn...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Firefighters respond to blaze in Lakewood High School gymnasium

Firefighters respond to blaze in Lakewood High School gymnasium

St. Petersburg firefighters responded to a fire early Monday morning in the gymnasium at Lakewood High School.According to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue, firefighters responded to the school around 5:40 a.m. after a maintenance worker discovered the fir...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Five new details on Clearwater parking space shooting

Five new details on Clearwater parking space shooting

More than two months have passed since Michael Drejka shot Markeis McGlockton in the parking lot of a convenience store.While developments in the headline-grabbing case have slowed to a trickle as it crawls through the court system, the Tampa Bay Tim...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Hillsborough asking why rescue captain stayed back as patientís friends performed CPR

Hillsborough asking why rescue captain stayed back as patientís friends performed CPR

TAMPA ó It was almost 4 a.m. when the manís friends found him unconscious in a Riverview home and called 911.His breath was shallow and he was turning blue. With the 911 call-taker giving instructions, his friends performed CPR and waited.Ten minutes...
Published: 09/24/18
Police in St. Petersburg searching for missing elderly man

Police in St. Petersburg searching for missing elderly man

Police in St. Petersburg are searching for a missing elderly man.Shortly after 5 p.m., Frederick Mein, 86, drove his silver Toyota Tacoma pickup truck from his home on the 1500 block of 78th Avenue N to his daughterís house a couple of miles away. He...
Published: 09/23/18
Police: Car runs red light, killing woman on motor scooter in St. Petersburg

Police: Car runs red light, killing woman on motor scooter in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURGCar runs red light, killing woman on motor scooterA woman died after a driver ran a red light on 5th Avenue N and hit her motor scooter early Sunday morning, police reported.Vallis Ann Oswain, 58, was driving the scooter northbound on 8...
Published: 09/23/18
Police: Motorcyclist injured in Bayshore crash, southbound traffic diverted

Police: Motorcyclist injured in Bayshore crash, southbound traffic diverted

TAMPA ó A motorcyclist suffered serious injuries in a crash on Bayshore Boulevard, police reported.About 3:10 p.m., the motorcyclist was driving southbound, according to the Tampa Police Department. At the same time, a driver in a Jeep Cherokee was h...
Published: 09/23/18
Stolen smokes: Florida man gets 20 years for cigarette theft

Stolen smokes: Florida man gets 20 years for cigarette theft

PENSACOLA, Fla. — A Florida man who stole $600 worth of cigarettes from a convenience store has been sentenced to 20 years in state prison.A jury in Pensacola convicted 48-year-old Robert Spellman of burglary and grand theft in August. Authori...
Published: 09/23/18