Plane returns to Seattle after assault on flight attendant

Court sketch of Joseph Hudek

Court sketch of Joseph Hudek

The flight left for Beijing later Thursday night.

The FBI said there are no indications the incident was a threat to national security.

Hudek was expected to appear in federal court in Seattle Friday afternoon on a federal charge related to the assault.

There were conflicting reports soon after the incident.

Officials say Hudek was in the first-class section when he attacked the flight attendant about 45 minutes after takeoff.

Hudek pushed the emergency release lever to a 90 degree angle, which flight attendants told investigators could allow the door to open at lower altitudes.

He began behaving strangely, though, questioning a flight attendant in the aircraft's forward galley.

The suspect, a 23-year-old man from Florida, was arrested by Port of Seattle Police and transferred to a federal detention center, according to the FBI, which is investigating the incident with the Port of Seattle.

A Delta Airlines 767, pictured in a file photo.

About an hour into the flight, while the plane was over the Pacific Ocean northwest of Vancouver Island, Hudek went into the forward restroom.

He was subdued by several passengers, and he was restrained.

One of the passengers who got involved and who remained anonymous said that at some point, he "tried to choke him and he just threw me off like a rag doll".

A FLIGHT attendant smashed two bottles of wine over a raging passenger's head after he lunged for the exit door mid-flight and started punching holidaymakers.

Retrained, Hudek kept fighting, the investigator continued.

The spokesperson said the passenger assaulted and injured the flight attendant and other passengers helped to restrain him.

Passengers on the flight told KIRO-TV the unruly passenger was pacing up and down the cabin toward the bathroom before heading for the exit door.

Together, the crew and passengers were able to hold Hudek down and zip tie him to a seat until the flight could return to the airport in Seattle.

Two people were taken to local hospitals to be treated.

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