Man Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison for Hitting Delta Crew, Passengers with Wine Bottle

May 16, 2018

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A 24-year-old Florida man who brandished a wine bottle to beat a Delta flight crew and other passengers on board was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday in a Seattle federal court.

Joseph D. Hudek IV was charged with one count of interfering with a flight-crew member and three counts of assault on an aircraft — charges he previously pleaded guilty to in February after starting a mid-flight brawl on a Delta flight 129 from Seattle (SEA) to Beijing (PEK) in July 2017.

According to Hudek’s lawyer, before the bizarre and violent incident, Hudek ingested at least three (possibly more) 10-gram marijuana laced candies before boarding the long-haul flight. Hudek’s lawyer said it was to help him sleep, but instead caused Hudek to suffer “marijuana-induced psychosis,” including delusions and hallucinations.

Hudek apologized in court for his behavior on the flight. “I’m deeply sorry for everything that’s happened,” he said.

Regardless of his state of mind, Hudek became unruly during the flight. He was flying in the Delta One premium cabin on a “dependent pass” because his mother worked for Delta (she has since lost her job). According to the lawsuit complaint, he emerged from the lavatory and tried to open the emergency exit door in mid-air.

This July 7, 2017, photo taken the FBI and released via the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle shows the aftermath of a cabin on Delta Flight 129 from Seattle to Beijing, after authorities say flight attendants struggled with a passenger who lunged for an exit door. A Florida man who brawled with flight attendants and passengers when he tried to open the exit door of a Delta Air Lines flight bound from Seattle to China has pleaded guilty to four felony charges. (FBI via U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle via AP, File)
This July 7, 2017, photo taken the FBI and released via the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle shows the aftermath of a cabin on Delta Flight 129 from Seattle to Beijing, after authorities say flight attendants struggled with a passenger who lunged for an exit door. A Florida man who brawled with flight attendants and passengers when he tried to open the exit door of a Delta Air Lines flight bound from Seattle to China has pleaded guilty to four felony charges. (FBI via U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle via AP, File)

He “lunged toward the forward right exit door of the aircraft, grabbed the handle, and attempted to open it,” according to the complaint. Two Delta flight attendants attempted to grab him and stop him, but he pushed them away and kept trying to open the door.

In the melee, Hudek punched a flight attendant twice in the face, hit a male passenger attempting to restrain him with the wine bottle and punched him twice. Eventually passengers and flight attendants were able to get zip ties around his hands, but he remained combative, and multiple passengers were needed to keep him restrained while the flight returned to Seattle (SEA).

Federal prosecutors said Hudek’s behavior put the plane’s 209 other passengers’ and 11 flight crews’ lives in jeopardy.

“He recklessly created a risk that endangered all the individuals flying at 30,000 feet on that flight that day,”  Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Hobbs told the court.

Earlier this year, a Texas man was held on a $10,000 bond and charged with battery for punching an American Airlines flight attendant in the face.

H/T: The Seattle Times

Featured photo: FBI via U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle via AP

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