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Press Release

Tampa Resident Indicted for Assaults on Delta Airlines Flight to China

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
23-year-old Attacked Flight Attendants and Passenger who tried to Stop Him from Opening Aircraft Door in Flight

          A federal grand jury in Seattle returned a five count indictment yesterday charging 23-year-old JOSEPH DANIEL HUDEK, IV for the July 6, 2017, incident aboard a Delta Airlines flight to Beijing, China, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. HUDEK remains detained at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac, and will be arraigned on Thursday, July 27, 2017, at 9:00 AM.


          The indictment charges HUDEK with Interference with Flight Crew and Attendants and four counts of Assault within the Special Aircraft Jurisdiction of the United States. Some of the assault counts carry higher penalties because of the use of a dangerous weapon or the infliction of serious bodily harm. One passenger and one flight attendant had to be taken from the plane for medical attention immediately after the assaults.


          According to records filed in the case, HUDEK was seated in first class on the Delta flight. The aircraft had just passed over Vancouver Island and was over the Pacific Ocean when HUDEK came out of the first class bathroom and in an agitated state attempted to open the exit door of the aircraft. Two flight attendants attempted to stop HUDEK and he threw one to the floor and punched the other. When a passenger attempted to assist the flight attendants, HUDEK hit him over the head with a wine bottle. Ultimately, multiple passengers were required to restrain HUDEK, and one had to re-lock the exit door as the aircraft returned to Seattle.


          Interference with a flight crew is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Three of the assault counts carry statutory maximum penalties of up to ten years in prison. One of the assault counts is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in prison.


          The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


          The case is being investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Hobbs.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Public Affairs Officer Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated July 20, 2017

Violent Crime