OMAHA, Nebraska – A man who breached a security gate at a Nebraska airport, stole a truck near the taxiways and rammed it into a parked Southwest Airlines plane was detained and taken to a hospital for a medical evaluation, police said Friday.
The plane was loading for takeoff at Eppley Airfield outside Omaha Thursday night when a truck driven by Dealario Koonce, 35, struck the plane’s nose gear, police said.
Several crew members suffered minor injuries; no one among the 18 passengers was injured, the airport said. The flight, scheduled for Denver, was delayed and the plane taken out of rotation for inspection.
The incident started when Koonce, having been seen acting irrationally at the south end of a terminal, ran off when police tried to intercept him, airport police spokesman Tim Conahan said.
The man then ran into some shrubbery, and eventually scaled an 8-foot high fence topped with six stands of barbed wire, Conahan said. On the other side of the fence, he found an unattended airport pickup truck, and drove it on to the apron when the planes park to load passengers, Conahan said.
A police cruiser cut him off, but the man made an U-turn, drove further and eventually struck the plane’s nose gear, Conahan said.
Police took Koonce to the Nebraska Medical Center for an evaluation. He faces two felony charges and is in police custody, according to Conahan.