SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – It appears liquor may be to blame for the emergency on board a Delta flight from Boston to Salt Lake City.
Anatoliy Baranovich told the FBI he was coming back from a trip to his native Ukraine where he had been drinking straight for the past 50 days. He said he fell asleep on the flight to Salt Lake and when he woke up he thought the wing of the aircraft was on fire. He ran to the back of the plane and tried to open the emergency exit before being wrestled to the ground.
U.S Attorney David Barlow told ABC 4 News, "The flight attendant asked for help from passengers in subduing Mr. Baranovich and in asking him to comply."
An off duty cop assisted in getting Baranovich to the ground but not before he did some damage to the aircraft.
"He did, in fact, partially succeed on one of the doors,” Barlow said. “He did considerable damage to the doors in the fuselage in his attempt to open that door."
Baranovich is charged with one count of damaging or disabling an aircraft and one count of assaulting the flight crew. Both carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.
Barlow explains just because Baranovich claims he was drunk doesn't mean he has a strong defense.
"It’s something we'll take into account, but the focus of our office is airline safety,” said Barlow. “These are always very serious situations."
A detention hearing for Baranovich is set for Friday, October 19th. A grand jury hearing is expected November 1st.