Video: Violent passenger removed from Virgin Atlantic flight after jet diverted to Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 27, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — Newly released court documents paint a harrowing picture of what passengers and crew members endured Tuesday aboard a Virgin Atlantic flight, which was diverted to Salt Lake City after an unruly passenger allegedly turned violent.

According to charges filed in federal court, the man arrested Tuesday at Salt Lake City International Airport is accused of physically assaulting crew members and at least one passenger aboard Virgin Atlantic Flight 141 as it made its way from London’s Heathrow Airport to LAX.

The suspect, 39-year-old William Stephen Hayes, a citizen of the United Kingdom, was arrested after pilots made the emergency stop in Utah.

Hayes is now facing federal charges, including:

49 U.S.C. § 46504, Interference with a Flight Crew
18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(4), Assault by Striking, Beating, and Wounding

Hayes’ probable cause statement was filed by an officer of the Salt Lake City Police Department who is a liaison agent with the Salt Lake International Airport.

“Witness statements reported that throughout the flight Hayes was loud, disruptive, threatening and abusive to other passengers and to crew members. Flight attendants opened a restraint kit as a precaution,” the probable cause statement said.

An unruly passenger accused of physically assaulting members of the flight crew and at least one passenger aboard a Virgin Atlantic Airline flight from London to LAX, is removed from the aircraft after it was diverted to Salt Lake International Airport, Tuesday, July 26, 2022. Video still: Jackson Jolley, Kevin Pan, AJ Jenson, Dylan Herrera/SLCScanner/Gephardt Daily

“At one point during the flight, Hayes assaulted a male passenger seated in front of him, grabbing the passenger’s shirt, attempting to hit him, and grabbing his throat. This action left visible marks on the assaulted passenger’s neck.

“Hayes also spat on and attempted to bite this passenger. Hayes was restrained by the passenger with the assistance of another passenger and crew members, and was placed in handcuffs.”

Although restrained, “Hayes continued to fight and be abusive, and attempted to kick the windows of the aircraft,” the statement says.

Virgin Atlantic flight VS41 enroute from London to Los Angeles is met by security personnel Tuesday after being diverted to Salt Lake City International Airport due to an “unruly passenger.” Video still: Jackson Jolley, Kevin Pan, AJ Jenson, Dylan Herrera/SLCScanner/Gephardt Daily

Video obtained by Gephardt Daily shows Virgin Atlantic Airline Flight 141 as it approaches Salt Lake International. It was met on the runway by emergency rescue units, including Salt Lake City police.

A figure presumed to be Hayes can be seen being led from the jet in handcuffs as he is escorted to a waiting law enforcement vehicle.

Hayes was booked into the Salt Lake County Metro Jail at 11:24 p.m. Tuesday and appeared in U.S. District Court on Wednesday afternoon.

Gephardt Daily will update this story as more information is made available.

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