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Press Release

Texas Man Arrested And Charged With Interfering With The Duties Of A Flight Attendant

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, Florida – Colby Isaac Hilleary (24, Greenville, Texas) has been arrested and charged by criminal complaint with interfering with the duties of a flight attendant. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.   

According to the complaint, on March 2, 2018, Hilleary was a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Dallas, Texas. Shortly after takeoff, he left his seat and ran to the front of the aircraft; a flight attendant told him that he needed to return to his seat. Hilleary responded, "the plane is going the wrong way," and "there are no pilots on the plane." A flight attendant then told Hilleary that there were pilots flying the plane and that it was currently over the water, but would turn and head towards Dallas shortly. Hilleary eventually returned to his seat. 

Once seated, Hilleary continued behaving in a disruptive manner. The flight attendant approached Hilleary in his seat in an attempt to address his concerns and calm him down, but he continued his erratic behavior. Hilleary stated, "The plane has been hijacked," and became increasingly agitated. He then jumped up from his seat and physically attacked the flight attendant. During the altercation, the flight attendant was punched in the face before other passengers could subdue him. The flight attendant notified the captain and the plane was diverted for an emergency landing in Tampa.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shauna S. Hale.  

Updated March 7, 2018