An unruly 23-year-old Delta passenger who was repeatedly struck on the head with wine bottles for allegedly trying to open an exit door during a flight to Beijing on Friday was finally subdued after the pilot made an emergency return to Seattle.
Joseph Daniel Hudek IV, of Tampa, who was traveling in first class on Flight 129, initially lunged toward the forward right exit door of the aircraft after leaving a lavatory, according to a federal complaint.
One flight attendant and a passenger received "severe facial injuries" during the ordeal, according to the complaint, which also noted the forward gallery area suffered extensive damage.
According to authorities, a flight attendant grabbed Hudek in an attempt to stop him from opening the door, but was pushed aside.
The attendant then enlisted the help of several passengers and notified the pilot, who began returning to Sea-Tac International Airport.
Hudek, according to the complaint, punched a second flight attendant in the face while a passenger struck Hudek over the head with a red dessert wine bottle.
Undeterred, Hudek fought off crew members and passengers while continuing to try to open the exit door.
A flight attendant then wielded two more wine bottles, breaking one in half on Hudek's head. According to the FBI, a flight attendant identified only by initials said Hudek "did not seem impacted by the breaking of a full liter red wine bottle over his head, and instead shouted 'do you know who I am?' or something to that effect."
The complaint said Hudek was flying on a "dependent pass," a perk extended to family members of airline employees. It said he had consumed only one beer prior to takeoff and showed no signs of intoxication or impairment.
Despite repeated attempts to subdue him, Hudek remained "extremely combative," even as more first class passengers joined the fray and applied plastic zip tie restraints.
Britteny Gardner, a passenger, told KIRO-TV that at one point flight attendant put out a call for a doctor. “Somebody that was working had blood on their shirt,” she said.
According to the complaint, Hudke managed to get the emergency door lever halfway up to 90 degrees during the ordeal.
Another passenger, Dustin Jones, told KIRO that even after the plane landed and Hudek was arrested, he remained combative, despite being handcuffed and zip-tied to a wheelchair.
"He started yelling for help," Jones said. "And so he turned the wheelchair over in the middle of the airport, screaming for people to help him, just being belligerent."
Hudek was charged with interference with flight crewmembers, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
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