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Las Vegas Man Pleads Guilty to Disrupting Flight

Jerry Ba Nguyen of San Jose, California
Jerry Ba Nguyen (Photo: Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office)

A Las Vegas man has pleaded guilty to federal charges regard a flight that made an emergency landing in Lubbock.

24-year-old Jerry Ba Nguyen was arrested in September 2016, accused of interfering with a flight crew on a flight from Ontario, California to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. American Airlines flight 2542 was diverted to Lubbock and made an emergency landing at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office provides additional details concerning the incident:

“Nguyen came to the attention of the flight attendants as the plane was leaving the gate in Ontario, appearing agitated and walking toward the front of the aircraft as it prepared to take off.  Flight attendants were able to calm him down, and the plane departed.  After takeoff, however, Nguyen’s erratic behavior continued; he mumbled that the SIM card had been stolen from his phone and he made suicidal statements.  He also stated that the police were not his friends, and the U.S. government was responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“Nguyen was asked to remain in his seat by the flight crew on multiple occasions, but refused.  Flight attendants were so concerned about his behavior that they recruited several passengers to assist with physically restraining Nguyen if it became necessary.

“Upon final approach, Nguyen walked to the front of the aircraft and was near the cockpit door.  Flight attendants instructed Nguyen numerous times that he needed to be seated for landing, but Nguyen refused to take his seat.  Due to Nguyen’s proximity to the cockpit door, the lead flight attendant signaled other passengers to subdue Nguyen.

“The Captain declared an emergency and diverted the flight to Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport, where it landed safely.  Nguyen was removed from the plane and taken into custody.”

Nguyen was accused of ignoring flight crew instructions, causing a disturbance and assaulting flight crew. Nguyen faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

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