News Column

Airport Runway Crasher Gets 16 Months in Federal Prison

Oct 24, 2012

John P. Martin

A Chester County man who stoked terrorism fears when he crashed his Jeep through a locked fence and onto runways at Philadelphia International Airport in March was sentenced Wednesday to 16 months in federal prison.

Kenneth R. Mazik, 24, of Chadds Ford, blamed the March 1 incident on what he said were delusions caused by his addiction to the behavioral drug Adderall.

"I was operating in a different space and time," he told U.S. District Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg.

The judge said he believed Mitchell was possibly in a drug-induced psychosis at the time. But he said the crime and the threat were too serious not to warrant a prison term.

"I know this is going to sound odd, but you're very lucky," Goldberg told him. "This could've been devastation of the highest proportions -and you'd be in jail for the rest of your life."

The airport was effectively shut down for 30 minutes after Mazik plowed through the locked fence at Gate 25 and began speeding down a runway. A plane with 39 passengers was on its final approach to that runway and had to abruptly pull up. The ensuing delays impacted more than 60 flights in Philadelphia and other airports.

Mazik crashed into runway lights, causing $91,000 in damage, and just missed striking an antenna that helped coordinate landings. He ultimately was arrested by Philadelphia and airport police. Mazik pleaded guilty in July to a single count of disrupting airport operations. Federal sentencing guidelines had recommended a term of 18 to 24 months.

In a memo to the judge, Assistant U.S. Attorney Albert S. Glenn asked for a punishment in that range.

"This was a very serious offense and put a lot of people in danger," Glenn said. Mazik's lawyer, R. Kerry Kelmbach, argued that Mizak, a graduate of the University of Delaware and father of a two-year-old son, had no significant criminal history, spent a month in a drug treatment center after the incident and has been a model citizen since then.

Source: (c)2012 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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