News and Press Releases

Woman was Intoxicated when she Assaulted Flight Attendant on Horizon Flight

May 16, 2008

KRISTA BAUER, 23, of Hanford, California, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle for Interference with a Flight Crew Member. U.S. District Judge Richard Jones imposed a sentence of time served, and three years of supervised release. As part of her supervised release, BAUER must undergo additional substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, perform 200 hours of community service, and write letters of apology to the airline and flight attendant within two weeks. Judge Jones told her, “this court sees this as a serious offense. But for the tragic circumstances involving your family, you could have been facing walking out that door to additional prison time."

On August 25, 2007, a Horizon Air flight from Sea-Tac to Billings, Montana had to return to Sea-Tac after BAUER left her seat and assaulted the flight attendant shortly after take-off. BAUER was arrested in California on November 13, 2007, on an outstanding warrant and was ordered detained by a federal judge in the Eastern District of California. BAUER was brought to Seattle for arraignment on December 7, 2007. On December 18, 2007, she was released from custody to attend inpatient substance abuse treatment. BAUER was released from the inpatient treatment program on February 15, 2008. On that same day she entered a guilty plea. In all she served 36 days in custody, and 60 days in treatment.

According to documents filed in the case, shortly after the flight took off on August 25, 2007, BAUER got out of her seat on the plane and walked towards the front of the cabin. The flight attendant instructed BAUER to return to her seat until the plane had reached cruising altitude. BAUER ignored the request and grabbed the flight attendant around the head and neck and made statements such as “if anyone is going to die tonight it’ll be you” and “we must die.” Other passengers on the flight pulled BAUER off the attendant and restrained her until the plane had landed and returned to the gate at Sea-Tac. The flight attendant and other passengers on the flight who were interviewed by law enforcement officers stated that they feared for the safety of the flight attendant and other passengers on the flight. Officers who interviewed BAUER at Sea-Tac observed that she appeared intoxicated. BAUER told the officers she did not remember what happened on the plane and said someone had bought “a few glasses of wine” for her in the Portland airport.

In making their sentencing recommendation, prosecutors considered not only BAUER’s intoxicated state, but the tragic purpose of her trip to Billings. BAUER’s older sister had been murdered by BAUER’s younger sister. She was traveling to Billings to attend the funeral and make arrangements for the care of her sister’s children. Prosecutor Kate Crisham wrote in her sentencing memo that BAUER was “possibly in a state of post-traumatic stress, when she assaulted (the flight attendant). Although these facts do not absolve Defendant of responsibility for her crime, or erase the incredible fear that (the flight attendant) and the other passengers must have felt that night, they nevertheless provide some context for Defendant’s actions.”

Appearing at the sentencing hearing, Howard Thiersch, the General Counsel for Horizon Air told the judge that whenever a plane has to divert from the normal flight plan it is more dangerous for the plane and for other aircraft in the air. “This serious and unwarranted attack on an employee impacts all employees and for some changes how they feel about coming to work,” Mr. Thiersch told the court. Turning to BAUER, Mr. Thiersch said, “You are not welcome on any Horizon Air or Alaska Airlines Flight. Should you purchase a ticket, you will be barred from boarding the flight.”

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Port of Seattle Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kate Crisham.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office at (206) 553-4110.

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