A drunk and violent unruly passenger who physically managed to open the outer aircraft door of a United Express jet in the final moments before landing has been sentenced to just one-year behind bars for interfering with flight crew. The maximum permissible sentence is 20-years imprisonment, plus a $200,000 fine.
Kameron C. Stone, 30, of Fairfax, Virginia was sentenced on Monday where he was also ordered to pay a fine of $7,500 and undergo three years of supervised release. Stone also faces a separate fine from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Following Stone’s attempt at opening the aircraft door, the pilots of the Embraer E45 regional jet operated by CommutAir on behalf of United Express were forced to declare an emergency with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a flight attendant, two passengers and an off-duty U.S. Marshal held onto Stone and pulled him back from the door.
Stone reached a plea deal with prosecutors in February in which he admitted two counts of interfering with flight crew and assault following the serious April 16, 2021 incident.
Witnesses described how Stone had been “loud and obnoxious” during the two and half hour flight from Dulles to Pensacola, Florida and that he smelled strongly of alcohol. Stone verbally harassed and made ‘finger guns’ at other passengers which led to a flight attendant being forced to frequently reprimand him.
At one point, Stone got up from his seat and reached for the cockpit door, saying: “I’m trying to get out of here”. The flight attendant blocked the door and ordered Stone to take his seat.
During the final descent into Pensacola, Stone once again stood up and approached the cockpit. The flight attendant tried to block him but he ran into her, pushed and grabbed her and then hit her head against the side of the galley.
He then managed to partially open the main cabin door activating an alarm in the cockpit and triggering an emergency landing. The flight attendant desperately held onto Stone’s hand to prevent him from fully opening the door and screamed “close the door!” as she tugged on the handle to close the door.
Three passengers leapt from their seats and jumped on Stone and then restrained him until law enforcement boarded the aircraft.
U.S. Attorney Jason R. Coody said the quick thinking of the flight attendant had helped prevent a perilous situation.
“Given the swift actions of the flight attendant, passengers and a Deputy United States Marshal, an incredibly dangerous situation was averted,” Coody said.
“Perilous acts such as this will be investigated by our law enforcement partners and vigorously prosecuted by this office.”
Some modern jets have cabin doors fitted with ‘flight locks’ which physically lock the door when the aircraft reaches a certain speed. In all cases, it’s impossible to open a cabin door at altitude because of the pressurization of the aircraft but this has less effect in the final phases of a flight when the aircraft is close to the ground.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.