Airplane passenger who says he was drunk for 50 days appears in court
A Ukrainian accused of trying to open the emergency door of a moving jet at Salt Lake City International Airport will spend at least two more nights in jail.
Anatoliy Baranovich, 46, appeared in federal court in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. A detention hearing for Baranovich was scheduled for Friday, at which time a judge might decide whether Baranovich can be released pending trial. Baranovich is being held in the Davis County jail.
As U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Warner informed Baranovich of the charges against him, the shackled man indicated through a Russian interpreter that he understood them and his rights. He will have the interpreter on hand through his proceedings.
Baranovich was charged Tuesday with willfully damaging and disabling an aircraft and assaulting and intimidating crew members of an aircraft. Federal agents wrote that Baranovich was a passenger Monday evening on Delta Flight 1215 from Boston. Baranovich, who was asleep, woke up as the plane descended into Salt Lake City, 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 an interpreter, 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., where he lives. Baranovich could not specify how many drinks or when he drank them. He "fell asleep or passed out" on Delta 1215, agents wrote.
David Barlow, U.S. Attorney for Utah, declined to speculate on whether what he described as a "lengthy drinking binge" is to blame for Baranovich's behavior aboard the plane, but it is taken into consideration.
Each charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison or a $250,000 fine. It's an "extremely serious situation" anytime someone endangers a flight, Barlow said.
Baranovich is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing and arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells on Nov. 1.
His family in Portland said they have not heard from him since his arrest.
One of the men who subdued Baranovich on the plane found a Ukraine passport and U.S. visa in the man's fanny pack, according to the charges. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah believes Baranovich is in the country legally, but as of Wednesday afternoon they were still trying to confirm that, said spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch.