Delta Flight Attendant Assaulted by Passenger, Plane Returns to Seattle

July 7, 2017 1:12 pm Last Updated: July 11, 2017 9:40 am

A Delta flight attendant smashed at least one wine bottle over a passenger’s head after the passenger lunged for the emergency door and assaulted several other passengers and crew members on a flight to Beijing Thursday, July 6.

Delta Flight 129 was headed to Beijing from the Seattle, and, according to a complaint released by the FBI, the plane was forced to return to Seattle when a brawl broke out 1 hour into the flight.

The suspect, identified as Joseph Daniel Hudek IV, 23, of Tampa, Florida, was subdued by other passengers aboard the plane until the plane landed and police were able to arrest him.

According to an affidavit filed by the FBI on Friday, the incident began when Hudek lunged for an exit door at the front of the plane, grabbed the handle and tried to open it, prompting a desperate scuffle with crew members and passengers who battled to subdue him.

In the course of the altercation, the FBI said, Hudek repeatedly punched a flight attendant and a fellow passenger, and persisted in trying to pull open the door, even as a second flight attendant struck him over the head with two large wine bottles, at least one of which broke over his head. Both flight attendants were women.

Hudek was finally restrained with zip ties as several passengers joined the fray, but not before he managed to pull the door lever halfway to the open position, the FBI said.

Delta said in a statement, “The passenger was restrained on board and was removed from the flight by law enforcement without further incident.”

According to KIRO-TV, the man attempted to open an emergency exit door when an attendant tried to stop him. She then had to break a bottle over his head.

“One of the flight attendants ran back and said there was a Code 3,” Dustin Jones, a passenger, told KIRO. “There was a serious fight up front.”

After being taken into custody, Hudek was still combative.

“He started yelling for help,” Jones added. “And so he turned the wheelchair over in the middle of the airport, screaming for people to help him, just being belligerent.”

Upon landing, police officers boarded the plane, arrested Hudek, and all 210 passengers and crew were also deplaned.

The flight left for Beijing later on Thursday evening.

Hudek appeared on Friday in U.S. district court in Seattle, where he was presented the complaint charging one count of interfering with a flight crew, a felony offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

He was ordered to remain in federal custody without bail pending a July 13 detention hearing, according to Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.

It’s still unclear what motivated Heduk to lunge for the emergency door or assault others onboard.

According to his Facebook profile, Hudek, who goes by Jojo Hudek, is studying at Florida State University.