Published August 10, 2010
A JetBlue flight attendant accused of cursing out a passenger on an airplane public-address system, grabbing some beer from the galley and exiting on an emergency slide has been released on bail in New York.
Department of Correction spokesman Stephen Morello told the Associated Press that he doesn't have details on who posted the $2,500 bail for Steven Slater. He has been charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing.
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said the endangerment charge came as a result of Slater opening the emergency exit door and deploying the emergency chute after landing.
"The emergency chute deploys at 3,000 pounds per square inch within seconds and could easily injure or kill ground crews or others on the tarmac who are unaware the chute has been activated," Brown said. "This would have been a far different arraignment if someone had been standing under the emergency chute when it deployed."
The cost to replace the emergency escape slide is in excess of $25,000, according to Jet Blue security.
JetBlue Airways said in a statement that Slater has been suspended from duty pending an investigation.
Police say Slater, 38, lost his temper after a rule-breaking passenger hit him on the head with luggage.
In arguing against bail, Turman said Slater's mother has lung cancer. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
Passenger Phil Catelinet said he heard the profanity-laced announcement on Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh, which he said ended with Slater saying, "I've had it." He described the announcement as "the most interesting part of the day to that point," but didn't see Slater use the exit slide or grab the beer.
It wasn't until he saw Slater on an airport train and overheard him talking about the escapade that he put it all together.
"He was smiling. He was happy he'd done this," Catelinet told NBC's "Today."
Slater appeared "pretty relieved" and "seemed like he was looking forward to whatever comes next careerwise," Catelinet told CBS' "Early Show."
By Monday night, several Facebook pages had been set up in tribute to Slater, with many users of the social networking site expressing support for his grand exit from his job.
Slater was arrested at his home in the Belle Harbor section of Queens by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police.
Slater's attorney's name wasn't immediately available, and there was no home telephone number listed for him. A woman who answered a phone at his previous residence in Thousand Oaks, Calif., identified herself as his mother but said she wasn't speaking to the media.
JetBlue Airways Corp. said in a statement that it was working with the Federal Aviation Administration and Port Authority police to investigate the matter. It said the safety of its customers and crew members was never at risk.