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Thinking wing is on fire, passenger tries to open exit on Delta jet

Published October 17, 2012 8:02 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Ukrainian traveler allegedly tried to open the emergency exit door of a moving jet at Salt Lake City International Airport, later telling federal agents that he had been drunk for 50 days and imagined a fire on the wing.

In federal charges filed Tuesday, agents wrote that Anatoliy Baranovich was a passenger Monday evening on Delta Flight 1215 from Boston, which was landing in Salt Lake City. Baranovich, who was asleep, woke up as the plane descended, agents wrote. He began yelling, in Russian, to his seatmate that he thought the wing of the Boeing 757 was on fire, agents wrote. The seatmate did not understand Baranovich.

As the plane touched down, about 10:30 p.m., Baranovich ran to the back emergency exit door and tried to open it, ignoring a flight attendant's orders to stop. In his efforts, Baranovich caused a malfunction that jammed the door, "malfunctioned" the inflatable slide and "caused extensive damage to the fuselage," agents wrote.

The flight attendant asked the other passengers for help, and several wrestled Baranovich against the opposite side of the galley, agents wrote. As Baranovich tried to open the other emergency door, a passenger who is a former police officer put Baranovich into a wrist lock and forced him to the floor.

Through a translator, Baranovich said he had been visiting family in Ukraine for 50 days, during which he tried to begin building a house he had been planning.

"Unable to begin construction, Baranovich stated that he got drunk and stayed drunk for the entire 50 days," agents wrote. "Baranovich stated, 'I never sobered up.' "

He said he had several alcoholic drinks while traveling — his flights took him from Kiev to Amsterdam, Boston and Salt Lake City before his planned final leg to Portland, Ore. — but he could not specify how many drinks or when he drank them. He "fell asleep or passed out" on Delta 1215, agents wrote.

Delta representatives could not comment Tuesday night as to how the emergency exit jammed, how the inflatable ramp malfunctioned or how Baranovich's alleged attempt to open the door damaged the fuselage. A spokesman said Delta was cooperating fully with investigators.

Baranovich was charged with willfully damaging and disabling an aircraft and assaulting and intimidating crew members of an aircraft.