Archive For September 25, 2021
A JetBlue aircraft sits on the tarmac. The company is one of many commercial airlines to experience unruly passenger incidents over the past year.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg via Getty Images
The FBI is investigating an incident aboard a JetBlue flight where witnesses say a passenger violently assaulted a flight attendant while attempting to enter the flight galley and cockpit.
According to an FBI affidavit obtained from The Daily Beast, the incident occurred Wednesday evening on Flight 261 en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Boston.
The passenger reportedly ran to the front of the plane about 45 minutes before touching down in San Juan and yelled for crew members to shoot him. Witnesses told the FBI that after becoming violent, multiple crew members restrained him.
Once the plane landed, the man was arrested for interference with flight crew members and attendants, which is considered a federal offense.
The altercation comes as commercial airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration continue working to lower the number of unruly passengers on planes — a number that drastically increased compared to last year, with fines totaling over $1 million.
According to the FBI’s affidavit, a flight attendant initially stopped the man from entering the galley by confining him to an area in front of the first row of seating on the plane.
Witnesses said that as the flight attendant worked to restrain him, the man became aware that a flight crew officer had opened the cockpit door and, in response, he began to kick and punch the flight attendant trying to hold him back. He also began choking the flight attendant by his tie.
The FBI report details that the flight attendant let go of the man to avoid asphyxiating but grabbed him again before he got to the galley.
The man was then restrained by six or seven crew members, using “makeshift restraints,” including the flight attendant’s tie, according to the FBI affidavit.
For the rest of the flight, he was moved to a back seat of the plane and handcuffed with flex cuffs and held by seat belt extenders.
As of Friday, the man remained in custody in Puerto Rico, FBI Public Affairs Officer Limary Cruz-Rubio told The Washington Post, adding that the FBI continues to investigate the situation and takes the incident “very seriously.”
Unruly passenger violations have steadily gone down compared to earlier this year, according to FAA data.
Each week in February and March, approximately 12 unruly passenger incidents were reported for every 10,000 flights. Since then, numbers have dropped and now rest at about six incidents per 10,000 flights.
Opposition to wearing face masks made up nearly 73% of all incidents over the year.
As part of the push to avoid further unruly passenger incidents, Delta Airlines released a memo on Thursday advocating for airline companies to release the names of individuals on their “no-fly” lists.
“A list of banned customers doesn’t work as well if that customer can fly with another airline, ” the memo stated.
The company also said it passed over 600 names of those barred from their flights to the FAA, adding that their list stands at 1,600.
On the same day of Delta’s announcement, individuals representing airline and flight attendant advocacy organizations testified in front of the U.S. House Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation, urging lawmakers to assist in curbing incidents.
“Every level of threat requires vigilance and scrutiny,” Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, wrote in her written testimony.
“We cannot be lulled into a place of accepting these distractions as a new normal,” she added.
National Hurricane Center
A storm brewing in the Atlantic is now a “major hurricane,” but forecasters say it currently poses little threat to land.
The National Hurricane Center said Saturday that Sam was bringing wind speeds higher than 110 miles per hour, the threshold for a storm to be dubbed a major hurricane.
It’s the fourth storm to receive such a designation this year, according to Andy Latto, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center.
With winds speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour, Sam was a Category 3 hurricane and was expected to become a Category 4 (wind speeds between 130 and 156 miles per hour) by Sunday.
As of late Saturday morning, Hurricane Sam was located about 1,000 miles east-southeast of the Northern Leeward Islands and about 630 miles northeast of the French Guiana coast, moving west-northwest at 10 miles per hour.
No coastal warnings or watches are in effect — and while Hurricane Sam is currently delivering strong winds, it’s not likely to make landfall in the Caribbean or mainland United States.
“There’s an upward trough — a cold front — going through the southeastern United States already,” Latto told NPR. “The associated trough that helps drive that front will help turn this system to the north later on, sometime by the early to middle parts of next week.”
Latto said there is a slight chance the hurricane would hit Bermuda, but modeling currently shows it’s likely to miss the island.
He also noted that this is the time of the year when forecasters begin to shift their focus from the eastern Atlantic basin near Africa to the western part of the ocean.
“Even though something like Sam most likely won’t be reaching the United States, keep vigilant and keep and eye on things — because there is always a secondary peak that comes from the western part of the basin later on,” Latto said.
RICHMOND, Va. — Eight Virginia Commonwealth University students have been charged with hazing in a fraternity pledge’s death from alcohol poisoning after a party earlier this year, officials said Friday.
The eight men arrested Friday range in age from 19 to 22, police said. All are charged with unlawful hazing of a student and four are also charged with buying and giving alcohol to a minor. Seven were held without bond at the Richmond Justice Center. The eighth was arrested in Prince William County and released on bond. Three others who were indicted are expected to surrender in the coming days, police said.
The university confirmed that all eight were students and all but one were enrolled this semester. The student code of conduct allows for sanctions up to and including expulsion, the university said in a statement, but it can’t share potential disciplinary information, if any, about specific students.
The indictments come nearly seven months after 19-year-old Adam Oakes of Loudoun County died. The office of the chief medical examiner ruled that his death was caused by alcohol poisoning.
Oakes had received a bid to the Delta Chi fraternity and attended a party where he would receive his “big brother” the night before his death. Oakes was told to drink a large bottle of whiskey and later passed out on a couch at an off-campus residence, his family said. He was found dead the next morning.
Richmond police, campus police and the university launched investigations. The chapter was suspended by the university and the fraternity’s national headquarters and in June VCU expelled the fraternity.
VCU has banned alcohol at fraternity and sorority events
Last month, the university announced that it would ban alcohol at fraternity and sorority events, publish misconduct instances online and pause new member recruitment. On the same day, two investigations of university Greek life on campus were released, finding that there are concerns about hazing and binge drinking at the university and staff has struggled to address them.
“VCU continues to mourn the tragic death of Adam Oakes and is grateful to the Richmond Police Department for its investigation,” the university said in a statement. “VCU is dedicated to continuing its efforts, announced this summer, to promote a safe and welcoming fraternity and sorority life culture for all.”
Oakes’ family expressed their gratitude in a statement, news outlets reported.
“We are grateful for some measure of justice these charges and arrests may produce, as well as the protection from hazing they may give young, impressionable college students,” the statement read. “The past seven months have been agonizing for our family. This is the first time these young men have been held accountable for their historically toxic and destructive traditions, manipulation of the VCU disciplinary systems, and for Adam’s death.”
The fraternity’s national office said in a statement that it was aware that former members of the indefinitely suspended chapter had been arrested.
“The alleged actions of these individuals are an affront to the values of Delta Chi. Our policies are clear as it relates to the expected conduct of members including that no member shall engage in or condone acts of hazing,” the fraternity said. “No family should ever have to experience what the Oakes family has experienced.”
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