United Airlines flight UA728 from Newark to Miami diverted to Charleston, South Carolina Wednesday morning after a passenger bit his seatmate’s ear off, according to a police report of the incident.
Passenger John Yurkovich, a 45 year old man from New Jersey, reportedly got up from his seat to use the lavatory. And when he returned he “seemed very agitated” according to his seat opponent and soon-to-be victim.
Yurkovich asked a flight attendant for water and then got up to retrieve pills from a bag in the overhead bin. He sat back down and began to “scream and thrash around.” His seatmate tried to protect himself from the man, but Yurkovich then punched him, breaking his glasses. Yurkovich is then accused of going for the man’s ear with his mouth, causing deep cuts that the police described as biting it off, presumably taking a chunk of the ear.
Other passengers descended on the man, and several received injuries. One was punched in the head, and another suffered a broken nose. They subdued him, though, and secured him with zip ties and a belt and placed his shirt over his head. A physician on board “administered a shot of Benadryl to the man’s buttocks to help sedate him.”
The pilot diverted the aircraft, which was met by police, and the flight eventually continued to Miami. Bond for Yurkovich was set at $50,000. The 15 year old ex-Continental Boeing 737-800 arrived about two and a half hours late.
This case is simultaneously what’s wrong with aviation, with humanity – and with the criminal justice system. This last because the man isn’t charged with biting hit seatmate’s ear. He’s charged with “a single count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine” over 1.5 grams of a “white crystal substance” in his pocket. That’s about 1/18th of an ounce and enough to assume he isn’t just holding it for personal use but he’s a dealer. Intent to distribute? Additional charges may follow.
(HT: Live and Let’s Fly)