Complaint says passenger tried to open emergency exit on Delta 757 on Monday
Ukrainian man said he thought plane's wing was on fire
He told authorities he'd been drinking heavily for 50 days
The man is in custody pending court hearings
It’s a cautionary tale: Capping off a 50-day bender with a transcontinental flight may cause confusion.
A Ukrainian man returning from a trip during which he “got drunk and stayed drunk for the entire 50 days,” according to court papers, faces federal charges after attempting to open an emergency exit moments after his flight landed. Details of the commotion are contained in a federal complaint filed by the U.S. attorney in Utah.
The complaint says that as the plane was descending, Anatoliy N. Baranovich, 46, woke and started yelling in Russian that the wing of the aircraft was on fire.
Passengers wrestled Baranovich when he tried to open the emergency exit shortly after landing, documents say. Later, Baranovich told investigators through an interpreter that he thought the plane’s wing was on fire and was close to scraping the ground.
The incident occurred Monday night aboard Delta Flight 1215 – a Boeing 757 – traveling from Boston to Salt Lake City. Baranovich lives in Portland, Oregon, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Read the FBI complaint against Baranovich (PDF)
Baranovich’s rough homecoming came after a trip to visit family in Ukraine, where he was planning to start building a house. But those building plans fell through.
According to the complaint, he also “stated that he got drunk and stayed drunk for the entire 50 days” of his visit. The drinking continued while traveling back to the United States, but Baranovich “could not specify when, how much or where he consumed the alcohol.”
When the 757 touched down, Baranovich jumped out of his seat and ran to the back of the aircraft, where he tried to open an emergency exit, according to the complaint.
A flight attendant ordered Baranovich to stop, but he continued to open the door, breaking the door and an inflatable slide and damaging the fuselage, the court papers say.
Several passengers jumped out of their seats, pinning Baranovich against a galley wall, the complaint says. He attempted to open the exit on the other side of the plane, stopping only when a former police officer forced him to the floor. The ex-cop searched Baranovich’s fanny pack, finding his Ukraine passport and U.S. visa.
Baranovich faces charges of damaging and disabling an aircraft and interference with a flight crew. Each charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
“We do not believe there is a connection to terrorism,” FBI spokeswoman Deborah Bertram said.
Baranovich appeared in court Wednesday and was assigned counsel. He remained in custody Wednesday.
Delta Air Lines is in contact with other passengers, a spokesman said. “We continue to cooperate with the FBI, which is leading the followup.”
CNN’s Mike Ahlers, Carol Cratty and Katia Hetter contributed to this report.