Skywest flight grounded when police arrest the pilot
A Skywest crew member was taken off a plane Wednesday morning by a Rapid City police officer but the airline just told passengers there was “a crew issue.”
Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris said in a tweet - "RCPD has arrested a Skywest Airlines pilot for operation of an aircraft while intoxicated."
The pilot is 38-year-old Russel Duszak of Salt Lake City.
Police were called a little after 8 a.m., less than a half hour before the Skywest Airlines flight was to take off for Salt Lake City. Police were told by a TSA agent that the pilot “smelled of alcohol.”
Dayrn Farmer, a hunter on his way home to Oregon, told KOTA Territory News that when the passengers started the boarding procedures he noticed there wasn’t a flight crew.
“They first told us the plane wouldn’t start,” Farmer said.
After passengers saw a police officer on the gangway with a flight crew member, passengers were given a little more but still not exactly what was happening.
“They (airline representatives) just said they had a crew issue,” Farmer said.
Management at Regional Airport deferred questions to the Rapid City Police Department.
The flight, which was supposed to take off at 8:30 a.m., was delayed until 10:30 when another flight crew took over.
Many of the passengers missed connecting flights because of the incident, including Farmer. “Now we have a long day getting home,” he said.
Skywest flies out of Rapid City as Delta Connection.