Flight lands after ‘report of somebody’s ear being bit off’


A United Airlines flight to Miami from Newark, New Jersey made an unexpected stop in Charleston, South Carolina after a man on board bit another passenger, according to a report from the Charleston County Aviation Police Department.

Police responded at Pier A-2 at the airport when the plane landed prematurely after “someone’s ear was bitten off,” according to a report by spokesman Spencer Pryor.

United confirmed the flight landed prematurely due to the disruption and referred additional questions to local police.

“On Wednesday United Flight 728 from Newark to Miami was diverted to Charleston, South Carolina due to a disruptive passenger on board,” United said in a statement from airline spokesman Robert Einhorn. “Police officers hit the plane on landing.”

The flight landed at 10:10 a.m. local time and rolled to the gate, where the police picked it up. According to the police report, the responding officers observed “the suspect” on the plane, who was identified as John Yurkovich from New Jersey and whose hands were tied behind his back with zip ties and a belt.

Passengers in front of Yurukovich were asked to disembark and he was used for questioning.

A passenger identified as “Victim No. 1” sat next to Yurkovich. The passenger said Yurkovich was “upset” after a trip to the bathroom, according to the report. Yurkovich asked the flight crew for water and got up to get what appeared to be pills from a carry-on bag, the passenger said.

Then Yurkovich, back in his seat, began “screaming and punching,” said the passenger.

Yurkovich hit victim No. 1 with a “closed fist” and, according to the police report, broke the glasses. Surrounding passengers tried to restrain Yurkovich, and victim # 1 suffered another injury: an injury to the ear.

Then a passenger sitting behind Yurukovich tried to intervene and, according to the report, was beaten. This passenger told police he thought his nose might be broken. Another passenger sitting next to victim # 1 told authorities that Yurukovich hit him in the “temporal” region but was not seriously injured.

A doctor who was also a passenger told authorities he injected Yurkovich Benadryl to subdue him, the report said.

Police arrested Yurkovich for “possession intended to distribute methamphetamines” after finding 1.5 grams of “white crystalline substance” in his pocket, which police said were later tested as methamphetamines.

According to the report, the FBI has charges pending against Yurkovich.

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