Man who caused diversion of Delta Flight sentenced to probation

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A Washington state man who pleaded guilty to screaming at a flight attendant on a commercial flight and forcing it to make an emergency landing in Oklahoma has been sentenced to probation.

Federal prosecutors in Tulsa say 29-year-old Bolutife Olorunda of Vancouver, Washington, was sentenced Wednesday to three months of probation. Olorunda pleaded guilty to a federal assault charge in July and agreed to pay Delta Airlines $9,118 for the cost of diverting the aircraft.

Prosecutors say Olorunda verbally assaulted and interfered with a flight attendant on a May 30 flight from Portland, Oregon, to Atlanta, prompting the pilot to declare an emergency and land in Tulsa. The flight eventually continued to Atlanta.

The FBI alleged Olorunda sang and screamed during the flight and threatened the flight attendant who tried to quiet him.

A Delta Airlines jet sits at a gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta in 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

A Vancouver man who prompted an emergency landing on a Delta Air Lines flight bound from Portland to Atlanta was sentenced in federal court to three months of probation, United States Attorney Trent Shores announced Wednesday.

Bolutife Olusegun Olorunda, 29, pleaded guilty in July to assault within maritime and territorial jurisdiction in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. He was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jodi F. Jayne.

The incident occurred mid-flight May 30 on Delta Air Lines flight 1156 when Olorunda began loudly singing and screaming.

When a flight attendant tried to quiet him, he threatened her. She alerted others to the situation and requested assistance from passengers to help restrain Olorunda if he became violent, according to the federal complaint.

A federal air marshal protected the cockpit while another sat beside Olorunda and tried to de-escalate the situation. At one point, Olorunda started flailing his arms but eventually complied. The air marshal sat next to him until the flight made an emergency landing at Tulsa, Okla., International Airport. There, airport police removed Olorunda from the aircraft and detained him, the complaint states.

Airline passengers must follow the lawful directions of flight crew members. As this case shows, there are serious consequences when one does not abide by the rules of the flight. There are no exceptions. This defendants actions caused a flight to be diverted to Tulsa. Diverted flights are costly to the airlines and extremely inconvenient to other travelers, Shores said in a written statement.

More importantly, defiant and belligerent behavior potentially places lives at risk. The crew and federal air marshals are to be applauded for swiftly handling the situation and ensuring the safety of those aboard Delta flight 1156, Shores added.

As part of his sentence, Olorunda will pay $9,118 in restitution to Delta Air Lines for the cost of diverting the flight for an emergency landing. He also faces a civil penalty, which includes fines from the Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration, according to a news release.

The incident was investigated by the FBI, Transportation Security Administration and Tulsa International Airport authorities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert T. Raley prosecuted the case.