• BREAKING NEWS Shelter in place lifted after prisoner captured

JetBlue flight attendant released on bail

August 10, 2010 8:24:54 PM PDT
The JetBlue flight attendant who popped the emergency slide, grabbed a couple cold ones and slid off a plane at JFK has been released on bail.

Steven Slater walked out of jail in the Bronx Tuesday night eager to talk and well aware of the outpouring of support that he has seen from across the country.

"Wow, it's been very, very appreciated and it seems like something has resonated with a few people and that's kind of neat," Slater said.

Eyewitness News asked Slater if he was going to lose his job and he answered, "More than likely."

And when asked if he cared, he smiled and said, "No comment at this time."

Earlier Tuesday, Steven Slater, 38, said nothing during the court proceeding. His lawyer said the original dispute had to do with a middle-aged woman who was irate over having to gate-check her luggage after a fight over storage bin space with another passenger. During that altercation, an intervening Slater was reportedly struck on the head with the bin door.

That fight between passengers flared up again when the woman became enraged that her bag was not immediately available at the end of the flight. At that point, Slater again became involved and was reportedly cursed out by the woman.

According to another passenger on the plane, Slater responded by activating the PA system.

"To the passenger who just called me a (expletive), (expletive) you," he said. "I've been in this business 28 years and I've had it."

According to police, Slater then activated the emergency chute, threw his carry-on luggage down it, grabbed beer and then slid down himself. He got in his car and drove to his Belle Harbor home, where he was later arrested.

"I lost patience," Slater told detectives in a confession Monday night. His last words to passengers were, "Those of you who have shown dignity and respect these last 20 years, thanks for a great ride."

Full Confession

"I lost patience after a female passenger had an argument with another passenger and then opened the bin door hitting me on the head without apologizing. I got on the microphone and said, 'To those of you [who] have shown dignity and respect these last twenty years, thanks for a great ride.' I accessed the porthole pulled the door handle inflating the slide, took my baggage and slid down the slide and left."

Police had initially said Slater lost his cool when a rule-breaking passenger defied requests to stay seated, then accidentally hit him in the head with her luggage.

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Slater is charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass. He faces up to 7 years in jail if convicted on all charges.

The judge ordered bail at $2,500, but it appears Slater did not immediately have the money and will be held at Rikers until he gets the cash together. Slater's attorney, Howard Turman, had argued for no bail, saying Slater's mother has lung cancer.

The judge also signed orders of protection for the captain of the plane and a JetBlue security agent, who were both witnesses.

Those who know Slater can't believe what police say he did.

"It's the most ridiculous thing I've heard in my life," neighbor Tony Durante said, laughing.

"It's a strange way to quit, let's put it that way," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said. "I don't think he'll be able to come back."

On the Internet, Slater says he has been a flight attendant since 1994. But he didn't start working for JetBlue until two years ago.

"I feel bad for him," neighbor George Garland said. "He just made a bad choice there. Lost his cool."

JetBlue said in a statement that it was working with the Federal Aviation Administration and Port Authority police to investigate. It said the safety of its customers and crew members was never at risk.

Meanwhile, Facebook pages have been set up in tribute to Slater.

By late morning, more than 13,000 people had "liked" a Facebook page set up in his honor, and commenters were lauding the flight attendant's stand and calling for the arrest of the disobedient passenger.


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