Belligerent Passenger Causes Plane to Divert to Salt Lake

A man on a Delta flight from San Francisco to New York on Monday became "uncooperative, belligerent and offensive," according to the aircraft crew, so the plane was diverted to Salt Lake City and he was arrested.

Thomas J. McSherry has been charged with the federal crime of interference with a flight crew.

A flight attendant is quoted in court documents saying McSherry appeared to be "under some kind of influence" when he got on the plane and sat down in the first-class section, then refused to cooperate when told to fasten his seat belt and stop using his cell phone.

McSherry also allegedly used profanity, insulted a flight attendant's nationality (Russian) and made a threat of bodily harm, according to court documents.

After McSherry responded in an unruly and threatening fashion to warnings to settle down and stop bothering the crew and other passengers, the plane's captain landed in Salt Lake City where law enforcement officials took McSherry into custody.

Court documents say law enforcement personnel found McSherry smelled of alcohol and seemed agitated, but he denied making any threats or causing a disturbance. Instead, McSherry said he had complained about the level of service on the plane and said a flight attendant had had "a hissy fit."

McSherry will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Nuffer this morning. McSherry faces a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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