Upset flight attendant grabs beer, activates chute, goes home
Witness says Steven Slater looked 'happy' — but is he facing more stress?
A JetBlue flight attendant got into an argument with a passenger on a jetliner arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport Monday, then grabbed a beer from the galley, deployed an emergency exit slide and fled the plane, authorities said.
And though he could be seen smiling as authorities led him away from his nearby home in the Belle Harbor section of Queens, Steven Slater's acquaintances and his apparent profile on a social networking site indicated that he has been dealing with some stressful events in his life.
Slater was ordered held on $2,500 bail, WNBC's Tim Minton reported. Slater faced charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing, and was in custody overnight.
By Monday night, several Facebook pages had been set up in tribute to Slater, who is facing charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing, with many users of the social networking site expressing support for him for walking off the job. One such page had more than 16,000 fans early Tuesday.
Twitter users also showed support, with declarations such as "Free Steven Slater!" and "Steven Slater is totally my new hero."
Slater was working on JetBlue Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh when he got into an argument with the passenger, who was pulling down baggage from an overhead bin, the Port Authority said.
The luggage apparently hit Slater in the head and he asked for an apology, but the passenger refused, the agency said.s the plane was landing, Slater got on the public-address system and cursed at the passenger, the Port Authority said.
He then grabbed at least one beer, activated the slide, slid down and went to his car, it said. Port Authority police were notified about 25 minutes later.
Phil Catelinet, a passenger on the flight, said on the TODAY show that Slater " was smiling — he was happy he had done this. He was happy he was done with his job at JetBlue."
"I think it's funny that he could quit his job that way … [but] I don't think he thought this through."
'One day at a time'
A MySpace profile appearing to belong to Slater notes that: "Beating alcoholism and substance abuse 'one day at a time' has opened up new worlds of opportunity for me, and I am so thankful to those who have guided me along the path to successful living, and given me new wings to fly. See you above the clouds. ..."
Slater's former roommate, John Rochelle, told The New York Times that Slater was rarely home, and often traveled to Thousand Oaks, Calif., to care for his ailing mother.
A neighbor of Slater's mother told the newspaper that he had also cared for his father, who died of Lou Gehrig's disease.
"It could be the pressure of his mother's illness, because that's not the type of behavior or conduct that Steve exhibits," neighbor Ron Franz said. "He's a very conscientious, responsible individual."
A woman who answered a phone at a previous residence listed for Slater in Thousand Oaks, Calif., identified herself as his mother but said she wasn't speaking to the media.
The district attorney told NBC News that Slater had not yet been arraigned, but that was likely to happen at a Tuesday morning court session.
JetBlue Airways Corp. said in a statement that it was working with the Federal Aviation Administration and Port Authority police to investigate the matter.
It said the safety of its customers and crew members was never at risk. JetBlue would not say how long Slater had been employed by the company.
A National Transportation Safety Board official said the incident was a result of "a little too much cabin pressure."
The Associated Press and NBC News contributed to this report.