United Airlines Passenger Tries To Bite Off Seatmate’s Ear

Filed Under: United

This is ridiculously disturbing on so many levels…

United passenger attacks seatmate

Wednesday morning’s United Airlines flight from Newark to Miami, UA728, diverted to Charleston due to one passenger’s awful behavior. 45-year-old John Yurkovich is the man behind the attack on several other passengers. WCSC reports on the content of the police reports about the incident:

  • Yurkovich got up to use the bathroom and returned a short while later, but appeared to be agitated; at that point he became “restless” and “bounced around his seat”
  • Yurkovich then asked for some water from a flight attendant, and then retrieved pills from the overhead bin
  • Yurkovich then sat back down and began to “scream and thrash around”
  • Yurkovich’s seatmate held his arm up to protect himself, but ended up being struck with a closed fist on the side of his face, causing his glasses to break, and he also suffered a laceration to his ear, as the man tried to bite it off
  • Other passengers intervened to try and restrain the man — a second victim was struck by Yurkovich, and that may have caused a broken nose; a third victim was punched in the head as well
  • At this point other passengers helped to restrain Yurkovich, and a physician even administered a shot of Benadryl in the man’s butt to help sedate him
  • When police officers boarded the plane in Charleston, they found Yurkovich face down on the floor of the aircraft being restrained with zip ties and belts — he had his hands behind his back, and his face was covered by a shirt.

Passenger charged with… drug possession

Yurkovich has been arrested and charged, but not for his assault on other passengers. Rather he was charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Police found 1.5 grams of a white crystal substance in his pocket, which tested positive for methamphetamine. Yurkovich disputed the meth charge:

“It’s not what they say it is. It’s a cat tranquilizer actually. It’s not what they’re saying it is.”

So yeah, he’s claiming he was carrying… cat tranquilizer. Yesterday afternoon bond was set at $50,000.

Bottom line

We hear of people misbehaving on airplanes all the time, but this is on a completely different level. It seems that this passenger completely lost it, and out of nowhere started attacking his seatmate and then others.

It sounds like passengers worked together well to restrain the guy, until the plane could be diverted to Charleston. I guess it’s not surprising that there were drugs involved, though I’m not sure why those are the only charges he’s facing as of now.

I’m guessing the FAA will be looking at fining and/or jailing this guy in a significant way.

(Tip of the hat to Live and Let’s Fly)

  1. What is it with ear biting? I mean its fairly rare but its more common than you would think. I have heard of stories of this throughout my life from school fights to adult situations like this. I seems as though Mr. Yurkovich sniffed a little in the bathroom.

    On to something more relevant to the blog – is United back to seating in each seat? Today’s UA718 is 737-900 which is 3×3 I assume United is holding the middle seat. I wonder if United will start allowing maskless travel with vaccine proof.

  2. For those who use meth, ketamine (a veterinary tranquilizer, called Special K on the streets) also is used. Snorted or injected.

  3. I suspect he hasn’t been charged with assault because the local authorities don’t have jurisdiction. They found the drugs on a plane in their city so they can arrest/charge with that but the FBI and DOJ may have to prosecute the assault.

  4. Man, what next ? This makes the guy who sh*t on the United food cart years ago look like an angel.

  5. Bad enough the New Jersey folks coming down to Florida spreading COVID, but now we have to worry about them biting and spreading rabies, too.

  6. This is what happens when you don’t bring back full meal service and passengers start to get a little hungry

  7. @jon – Gerard Finneran died of Alzheimer’s in 2004, nine years after UA976. His Alzheimer’s likely contributed to his behavior, as early onset dementia usually starts ~10 years before symptoms appear.

    I give Mr. Finneran the benefit of the doubt on this incident.

  8. As COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed gun-games (Atlanta) and hunger games (this) will be on full exhibit. Because ‘Murica never ceases to surprise..

  9. Wait…a shot of Benadryl to the butt??? Who knew that you could inject Benadryl, and why did a physician have it and a syringe with them? Weirdest part of the story, imo.

  10. @TwoScoops: Benadryl can be administered through a intramuscular injection, if the more usual oral way is impracticable. However, it’s generally used in case of allergic reaction, possibly motion sickness – therefore, it be on stock in the onboard pharmacy. I agree, the use in this case is rather weird.

  11. @CRAIG
    United never really blocked middle seats. They’ve been selling flights to full capacity since last summer, and no US airline has any plans to let vaccinated people travel without masks. It’s going to be an everyone or no one change when the mask rules are lifted.

  12. To see how the shadows move in the cover of darkness, we have to create an illusion of lax laws, so we may catch them.

    This is one of a few strings. Google Viracopos airport for more news.

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