Former JetBlue flight attendant avoids jail

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NEW YORK - A former JetBlue flight attendant, who went berserk on a plane and said goodbye to his career in a dramatic exit down an emergency chute, has accepted a plea bargain to stay out of jail, a media report said Wednesday.

In exchange for no jail time, Steven Slater, 38, agreed to attend at least a year of counselling and substance-abuse treatment. He also was ordered to reimburse JetBlue $10,000 to help replace the escape chute he deployed, the New York Post reported.

Slater, appearing in the Queens Mental Health Court, New York, pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal mischief, one a felony.

“At the end of the day I am a grown up and must take responsibility for my actions,” Slater said in a brief statement in the court house.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said it was clear that “intoxication had something to do” with the incident.

“I believe (Slater) felt somewhat humiliated from what he perceived as degrading working conditions, and he had a level of rage at the time that was perhaps exacerbated by alcohol intoxication and maybe some other contributing stress factors,” Brown said.

“As a result I think he overreacted when he was confronted by what he perceived as a rude passenger.”

Slater will get no jail time and a year’s probation — as well as the felony charge dismissed — if he completes his treatment programme to the judge’s satisfaction. If he does not, he will get one to three years in jail, the report said.

Slater was accused of cursing over his plane’s public-address system when the craft landed at John F. Kennedy airport after its flight from Pittsburgh in August, deploying the emergency chute and sliding down to the tarmac.

Slater claimed a confrontation with a rude passenger led to the incident, but some other passengers disputed his story.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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