SEATTLE – A Florida man who fought with flight attendants and other passengers when he tried to open the exit door of a Delta Air Lines flight bound from Seattle to China has been indicted on five federal charges, prosecutors said Thursday.
Joseph Daniel Hudek IV, 23, was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on one count of interfering with the flight crew and four counts of assault on an aircraft.
A U.S. magistrate judge ordered Hudek to remain in federal detention and set his arraignment for July 27.
Hudek's lawyer, Robert Flennaugh, said his client is a peaceful person who has flown multiple times without incident.
"Obviously, something uncharacteristically happened to him on the flight," Flennaugh said. "Mr. Hudek is sorry about what happened."
Flight 129 left Seattle on July 6 bound for Beijing and was over the Pacific Ocean when an agitated Hudek walked out of the first-class restroom and tried to open the exit door, prosecutors said. There were 210 passengers and 11 flight crew members aboard the Boeing 767 aircraft.
Two flight attendants tried to stop Hudek, prosecutors said, and he threw one to the floor and punched the other.
When a passenger attempted to help the attendants, prosecutors say, Hudek hit the man over the head with a wine bottle.
As passengers struggled with Hudek, who was throwing punches, a flight attendant "grabbed two wine bottles and struck Hudek over the head with each, breaking at least one," according to the criminal complaint filed July 7.
Several passengers intervened and held him down while he was restrained with zip ties.
"Hudek 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," the complaint said.
One passenger and a flight attendant were taken to a hospital for treatment after the assaults, prosecutors said.
Interfering with a flight crew carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. Three of the assault charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years. One of the assault counts against Hudek is a misdemeanor charge with a maximum of one year in prison.
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