A man is accused of attempting to bite a flight attendant before jumping from the aircraft at a North Carolina airport Thursday.
Tu Lon Sein, 22, of Myanmar, was charged with assaulting and intimidating a flight attendant at his court appearance Friday and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted, the Charlotte Observer reported.
Court documents say the incident occurred on American Airlines flight 5242 from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to New Bern, North Carolina.
WSOC reported that Sein is an immigrant from Myanmar sponsored by the Episcopal Migration Ministry. He began his journey in Thailand, where he flew to Hong Kong and then flew to New Jersey. The flight from Charlotte to New Bern was his final leg of the trip.
Once he got to Charlotte, Sein allegedly left his seat and attempted to open the aircraft door, according to court documents.
Documents say a flight attendant and two passengers tried to stop him when he allegedly bit the flight attendant’s hand.
Shortly after that, Sein allegedly opened the service door from the galley of the plane and jumped onto the tarmac at the airport.
Two airport employees on the tarmac at the time stopped Sein before he could run on the taxiway, ABC News reported.
Authorities escorted him to the terminal and took him to Carolinas Medical Center for treatment.
Court documents say Sein “spoke little to no English.” U.S. air marshals say that Sein appeared to understand the safety requirements for passengers and the flight attendant’s instructions based on his previous experience on an international and domestic U.S. flight.
The language barrier, however, has posed an issue in court. Prosecutors say they could not find a translator well-versed in Sein’s dialect from Myanmar.
Officials say it will take at least a week or more to find a translator. Until then, Sein will remain behind bars.
The Episcopal Migration Ministry told WSOC that it is working with the State Department and law enforcement officials in this case.