In-flight bathroom emergency leads to felony charge
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
It’s a felony charge brought on by Montezuma’s revenge.
It was 30 minutes after takeoff. Joao Correa had to use the bathroom. Right away.
The last meal the Philips Healthcare marketing manager ate at a restaurant in Honduras wasn’t sitting well. He looked down the single aisle of the Delta 737. A beverage cart blocked his way.
Correa, 43, asked the flight attendant if he could use the lavatory in business class. No, she said.
Correa returned to his seat. He waited for the cart to move. A few minutes passed. Desperation overcame him.
What happened next on the March 28 flight depends on who is talking.
Correa said he ran straight to the business class bathroom. “I had no choice,” he said in a telephone interview.
Correa said flight attendant Stephanie Scott put up her arm and blocked his entry into business class, according to an FBI affidavit. Correa then grabbed her arm to keep his balance.
Scott, however, said Correa stormed up the aisle and insisted to use the bathroom. She said she lightly placed her arm on his shoulder and asked him to move back. Correa then grabbed her right arm, pulled it downward and twisted it, she told an FBI agent.
Correa refused to return to his seat. Scott called the pilot who talked to Correa. The pilot let Correa use the bathroom in business class. Correa did and returned to his seat, where he stayed for the rest of the three-hour flight.
Still, Scott’s statement and corroboration from a witness who was a pilot for another airline gave the FBI probable cause to charge Correa with assault.
After Delta Flight 406 touched down in Atlanta, Correa was told he could not make his connection to his home in Concord, Ohio. He was arrested that Saturday and jailed for two nights. The following Monday, he appeared before a U.S. magistrate in federal court in Atlanta and was granted bond.
Often, Correa said, his job requires him to travel. He was in Central America to conduct sales training in Panama and to visit customers in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. Before March 28, he said, he had never had any trouble on a flight.
“I’m devastated,” said Correa, who has a wife and two children. “I’m so traumatized emotionally. It’s been really, really hard on me. I’ve never had any event with the police in my life.”
Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott said flight crews do all they can to ensure the safety and security of passengers.
Delta is cooperating with authorities in the investigation of the incident. The airline also strictly follows Federal Aviation Administration policy, which calls for passengers on international flights to use the lavatory in their seating class, Elliott said.
A preliminary hearing, in which federal prosecutors must lay out their case against Correa, has been scheduled for April 17.
A felony charge? Gimme a f'ing break.
Perhaps these idiots would have preferred that Mr. Correa had dropped a load right in the middle of the aisle.