Remember that episode of The Twilight Zone when the guy went nuts because he thought he saw a monster on the wing?
This is kind of like that. A Ukranian immigrant – who police said was drinking – is being accused of going nuts during an flight and assaulting the crew because he thought the plane’s wing on fire during a Delta Airlines flight from Boston to Salt Lake City.
Anatoliy Baranovich, 46, is facing mental evaluations and charges of damaging and disabling an aircraft and interference with a flight crew. And in another odd twist, he had passports for 19 women and $6,500 in cash in his luggage – but we’re not sure if he had the women in binders.
Baranovich was returning to Oregon after a trip to the Ukraine when he woke up from a nap, looked out a window and thought he saw fire. So he got worked up and started yelling in Russian before he ran from his seat to the back of the plane, where he tried to open the emergency doors.
At a federal hearing today in Salt Lake City, FBI agent Cameron Smiley said Baranovich ignored flight attendants’ commands to calm down, and he fought off at least five people before he settled down.
Baranovich admitted to a few beers at the airports in Amsterdam and Boston and a glass of wine between Boston and Salt Lake City.
Smiley said the mad Ukrainian stayed calm through their interview but got violent when officers found the young womens’ passports in his luggage. Baranovich also offered the $6,500 in cash from his suitcase to police if they’d let him go.
Defense attorneys said Baranovich has no criminal record, and he’s a permanent U.S. resident, so he should be let go. But Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead said he was worried about Baranovich’s access to passports and cash, so he ordered him held.
And that hold could last a long time. Baranovich is facing up to 40 years in prison.