Airport gate crasher charged by feds

Posted: March 02, 2012

A man who crashed his Jeep through a gate at Philadelphia International Airport and led police on a chase down two runways was charged today with a federal offense that carries a maximum 20-year prison term.

An affidavit by FBI Special Agent Megan MacDonald said an airplane was about to land when Kenneth Richard Mazik zoomed down the flight's designated runway at speeds of over 100 mph in a Grand Cherokee about 11 a.m. Thursday.

The flight was about 500 feet over the runway when it was diverted and put in a holding pattern, said MacDonald, assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Police chased Mazik down that runway and then another before he came to a halt on a taxiway, MacDonald said.

She said Mazik also injured two police officers when they attempted to put him in a holding cell.

MacDonald said Mazik's actions endangered "airport personnel, flight personnel and passengers, caused injury to two law enforcement officers, and resulted in monetary loss in the form of damages and lost revenue."

Seventy-five aircraft were placed in a holding pattern and 80 others were prevented from departing on time because of the incident.

Mazik, 24, of Chadds Ford, is charged with disrupting an international airport, which, besides the 20-year term, carries a fine of up to $250,000.

Philadelphia International Airport officials in the meantime said today their security system operated "extremely well" after Mazik rammed an airfield gate with his Jeep.

In a statement today, the airport said its airfield perimeter fencing "meets or exceeds all federally mandated standards and our airfield is secure."

According to the statement, as soon as Mazik's Jeep Cherokee rammed the gate, FAA air traffic controllers were notified by ground radar of the breach and "acted quickly to stop all traffic to avoid any conflicts."

Security officials and police were quickly notified and captured the motorist within five minutes after a police chase along the runways.

"While this was a very rare incident, the various layers of security interacted extremely well to bring this incident to a safe conclusion," the statement said. "We continually review airport safety and security procedures with the TSA, Airport Police, FAA and other federal agencies."

Mazik, who reportedly is undergoing a psychiatric examination, also has been charged with state offenses, including driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest.

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