Pilot arrested before takeoff, accused of operating aircraft while intoxicated

South Dakota police arrested a pilot Wednesday on suspicion of operating an aircraft while intoxicated.

Explore>> Read more trending stories

Rapid City police Chief Karl Jegeris confirmed the arrest on Twitter and promised to release additional information later Wednesday.

"Airport management and airline officials have been helpful to ensure passenger safety is a top priority," he said. "The system worked the way it is designed to ensure passengers' safety was not compromised."

Jegeris identified the pilot as an employee of SkyWest Airlines. The airliner operates a Delta Air Lines connection through the airport, according to SkyWest route maps.

Police said in a news release they were called around 8 a.m. after someone smelled alcohol on the pilot, identified as Russell Duszak, 38, of Salt Lake City.

Officers determined Duszak was operating an aircraft while his blood alcohol content was above .04. He was arrested on one count of operating an aircraft under the influence of alcohol.

Duszak was scheduled to fly passengers from Rapid City to Salt Lake City at 8:30 a.m. MDT, KOTA reported.

The flight was delayed until 10:30 a.m., when another flight crew took over, according to KOTA.

"They first told us the plane wouldn't start," passenger Dayrn Farmer told the news station. Later, after passengers noticed police on the gangway, airline representatives "just said there was a crew issue," Farmer said.

Additional information on the arrest was not immediately available.

About the Author