United Airlines Flight Diverted To Charleston After Passenger Bites Off Seatmates Ear, Throws Punches


Another strange episode coming from the U.S. where a United Airlines passenger under the influence of some substance became irate and attempted to bite off his seatmates ear.

The flight from Newark to Miami was subsequently diverted to Charleston where the passenger in question was arrested and booked with the local police department.

The authorities arrested the passenger and charged him with “possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine”. He was later released on a $50,000 bond.

Charleston’s local NBC2 station reported that the initial emergency record showed authorities react to an emergency about a passenger biting off someones ear.

A 45-year-old man was arrested at Charleston International Airport on Thursday morning after causing a disturbance on a United Airlines flight.

According to an incident report, the flight was destined for Miami, Florida from Newark, New Jersey and made the landing in Charleston around 10:00 a.m. after a man attacked other passengers.

Authorities and Charleston County EMS responded to Gate A-2 after receiving a report of “someone’s ear being bitten off.” However, there was no other mention of anyone’s ear being bitten in the report.

The report states officers boarded the plane and observed the suspect, later identified as John Yurkovich, face-down on the floor being restrained with his hands behind his back and zip-tied to his belt. …

The victim said Yurkovich asked the flight attendant for some water, and then got up from his seat to retrieve what appeared to be pills from his carry-on baggage. He then sat down and began to scream and thrash around.

According to the report, the suspect struck the victim with a closed fist on the right side of his face, causing his glasses to break – he also suffered a laceration to his left ear.

A second victim, who was seated behind the suspect, intervened after Yurkovich attacked the first victim and stated that he may have suffered a broken nose.

The report says a third victim attempted to subdue Yurkovich and was punched in the side of his head. He told police that he was not seriously injured.

Authorities arrested Yurkovich and charged him with possession with intent to distribute meth. He was released on a $50,000 bond. The flight was cleared to continue to its destination in Florida.

So one person got his ear bitten, the other had a broken or at least fractured nose. Add to that a charge of drug possession. Good score for one flight!

You can track flight UA728 here through Flightradar 24, showing the diversion to Charleston.

While the passenger was released on bond and is awaiting trial I’m sure the charges will be significant. The FAA has recently beefed up their enforcement against unruly passengers including heavy fines. He also caused serious injury to other passengers so it might very well include jail time.

The injured passengers will likely file civil lawsuits against the assailant as well, making it even more expensive if there is actually something to be gained financially.


The entire situation will likely have severe consequences for Mr. Yurkovich who injured two passengers and is charged with possessing methamphetamine. The article doesn’t say how many drugs the defendant actually carried, just that it he had an intention to sell. I wonder how they determined that?

Passengers who cause a disturbance in the air now face much tougher penalties after the FAA implemented new regulations that a few unruly pax already had to learn the hard way.