Hung over from a 50-day drunk, Anatoliy N. Baranovich thought Delta Flight 1215 was on fire when the aircraft landed at Salt Lake City Tuesday night, so the Ukrainian man frantically tried to open the rear door of the aircraft and furiously struggled with passengers trying to restrain him, authorities allege.
According to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court in Utah, Baranovich flew to Salt Lake City on Flight 1215 from Boston’s Logan International Airport around 7:30 p.m. He later told FBI agents that he was returning to Portland, Ore., after visiting relatives in his native Ukraine.
He had gone to Ukraine to build a house, but told the FBI that once he learned he could not start construction as hoped, he decided to start drinking. “Baranovich stated that he got drunk and stayed drunk for the entire fifty days,’’ FBI Special Agent Cameron Smilie wrote in the affidavit.
Baranovich’s return journey had begun in Kiev and had already taken him through Amsterdam to Boston before he started flying to Salt Lake City. While an airline passenger, Baranovich continued to drink “but he could not specify when, how much or where he consumed the alcohol.’’
Once Flight 1215 was airborne, Baranovich fell asleep – or passed out – waking only as the Boeing 757 was descending into Salt Lake City’s airport, the FBI said.
“Baranovich regained consciousness and looked out the window,’’ the FBI agent wrote. “Baranovich thought the wing of the aircraft was on fire and began to notify fellow passengers in Russian. Baranovich stated that after the airplane touched down, he jumped out of his seat and ran to the rear door of the aircraft.’’
According to the FBI, when Baranovich ran to the rear of the aircraft, a Delta flight attendant, identified only as M.I., ordered him to stop, but was unable to prevent him from opening the emergency exit door on the starboard side of the plane. But Baranovich mishandled the door, causing it to malfunction so it did not deploy the inflatable chute.
At that point, the flight attendant asked for help from passengers. Several rushed to assist, but it was a retired police officer, identified only as P.T., who grabbed Baranovich in a “wrist lock and forced Baranovich to the floor of the aircraft,’’ the FBI said.
The Delta pilot, after determining no terrorist threat existed, taxied the plane to the open gate where Baranovich was taken into custody.
He is scheduled to make an initial appearance in US District Court in Salt Lake City today on charges of attempting to disable an aircraft and assaulting and interfering with the flight crew.
No passengers or flight crew needed medical attention.