Saturday, March 20, 2021

John Yurkovich Jr: New Jersey man accused of causing emergency airplane landing in Charleston federally indicted

A federal grand jury has formally indicted a New Jersey man accused of starting a fight that forced a Florida-bound airliner to make an emergency landing in Charleston last month.

John Yurkovich Jr. faces one count of assault within special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, according to the indictment, which was filed on April 6. 

Yurkovich’s attorney, Rose Mary Parham, could not be reach by phone or email for comment. 

The 45-year-old Millstone Township, N.J., resident also faces one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. That charge is being handled in state court. 

Yurkovich had been flying from Newark, N.J., to Miami, but pilots made an unplanned landing at Charleston International Airport after a fight broke out in the cabin.

A passenger told police Yurkovich seemed agitated upon returning from the bathroom and took out pills from his carry-on bag. He began screaming and thrashing, according to an incident report, then punched a neighboring passenger and broke the man’s glasses.

Everyone involved declined hospital treatment.

A doctor on board gave Yurkovich a shot of Benadryl to subdue him, authorities said. By the time authorities boarded the plane, they found Yurkovich face down on the floor with a belt and zip ties binding his hands behind his back.

His shirt had been pulled over his head, according to an incident report, and one officer found about 1.5 grams of a white crystal substance in his pocket.

John Yurkovich Jr.
Charleston Airport Police Department

A New Jersey man was arrested this week after federal officials say he attacked two people on a plane while he was in possession of methamphetamine.

John Yurkovich Jr., 45, of Middlesex County, was a passenger on Flight 728, which departed Newark Liberty International Airport at 8:14 a.m. Wednesday bound for Miami, according to the FBI and public records.

Less than an hour into the flight, Yurkovich became “unruly and assaulted multiple people,” FBI special agent Joseph Hamski wrote in a criminal complaint on Thursday.

The incident apparently began when Yurkovich got out of his seat and walked to the rear of the plane. When he returned, he “was acting erratic and appeared to be off-balanced,” the complaint states.

Yurkovich demanded a flight attendant bring him water, then he removed a bag from the overhead compartment and appeared to fish out a pill and swallow it, according to the complaint.

When a passenger nearby put his arms up to keep Yurkovich from falling on him, Yurkovich allegedly grew enraged, took off his face mask and shouted: “Don’t f------ talk to me. Don’t f------ touch me,” the complaint states.

The complaint alleges Yurkovich punched the passenger several times in the face and head, breaking his glasses and causing him to bleed from an ear. (The passenger later required seven stitches to close a cut to his ear, the FBI said).

The passenger, who was wearing his seatbelt during the assault, wrapped his arms around Yurkovich and tried to pull his shirt up over his head, the complaint states.

By then, several other passengers jumped up and tried to stop the assault. One of them “was punched in the nose by Yurkovich, causing (the nose) to bleed and swell,” the complaint states, adding that a doctor later determined the passenger’s nose had been broken.

A flight attendant brought the passengers zip-ties, which they used to place on Yurkovich’s wrist and restrain him until the plane could land, according to the complaint.

A doctor aboard the plane, who witnessed the fracas, retrieved his medical bag and injected Yurkovich with a shot of Benadryl® in his buttock “to help sedate him,” according to a report from a police officer with the Charleston County Aviation Authority.

Police at the airport said they found Yurkovich face down on the floor, his shirt covering his face, and his wrists restrained with zip-ties and a belt. Airport police searched Yurkovich, finding 2 grams of methamphetamine on him, the FBI said.

The pilot told the FBI he declared a Level 3 emergency due to “a riot (that) had ensued on the plane,” and he diverted the flight to South Carolina.

Yurkovich was held in South Carolina on drug charges. He also faces federal assault charges and criminal acts on an aircraft, the FBI said.

Public records show Yurkovich has addresses in Middlesex and Monmouth counties. He states on his Facebook profile that he is a branch manager for a mortgage company, attended Piscataway High School, and lives in Old Bridge.


  1. He is a loving husband, father and successful business man? Doesn't look like it to me. Taking methamphetamine is not what successful business men do or even a loving husband and father. Especially on an airplane!

    1. Maybe the hasty facebook matchup to someone of the same name is raining h.e.double hockey sticks down on a decent man who has nothing to do with this incident.

      There are 16 "People named John Yurkovich" on Facebook with that exact spelling, plus others in common spelling variations.

      Careless matchups happen all the time.

    2. Too bad there weren't any men on board who could have knocked him cold so they could have finished their scheduled flight.

    3. "“He is a loving husband and father and successful businessman.”"

      Good - he'll be able to pay his victims when they sue the pants off him.

    4. They never would have released his photo if he was black. So much for white privilege.

  2. Were they Asian? They must have been Asian. When will all of these senseless, racist attacks stop!

  3. From Mexican jungles to New Hampshire streets: Crystal meth is here
    by Shawne K Wickham, New Hampshire Sunday News, Feb. 20, 2021
    “This is a lab in the middle of this jungle that was producing seven tons of Crystal Methamphetamine every three days,” DeLena said. “That’s just one lab in Mexico.”
    Ever more coming up from the open border, thanks to USA liberals and their politicians.

    Among the New Jersey municipalities which are considered sanctuary cities are Asbury Park, Camden, East Orange, Hoboken, Jersey City, Linden, New Brunswick, Newark, North Bergen, Plainfield, Trenton and Union City.

  4. How about instead of some comforting meds shot in the buttocks with a sterilized needle he gets two 16d nails in the temple from an air nailer?

    1. Funny! That flyer's lawyer was somewhere on that plane, I bet! "As your attorney, I advise you to get another bump of meth from the overhead baggage compartment."

  5. Felony with violence and endangering 200 people. He could end up in a USP 4 or 5. For a civilian that will be a tough ride.