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Pennsylvania man charged after vehicle enters airport runway

Federal prosecutors say that an eastern Pennsylvania man was intoxicated when he drove his Jeep onto the tarmac of an airport on March 1. The incident disrupted air traffic, though no injuries were reported and authorities said there was no reason to believe the incident was an attempted act of terrorism.

According to an affidavit filed in federal court, the suspect, 24, drove his SUV through a metal fence to enter the tarmac. One airplane pulled up sharply after being seconds from landing, and several other planes circled the airport as they waited for the vehicle to leave. Takeoff for around 80 planes on the ground was delayed, the affidavit claimed.

The SUV reportedly reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour as the suspect drove on two runways, police said. Within minutes, local and airport police had chased down the suspect, pulled him over and arrested him. No explosives or hazardous materials were inside the Jeep, suggesting that the suspect did not plan a terrorist attack on the airport. However, officials have charged him with disrupting operations at the airport, reckless endangerment and DUI.

As anyone who has flown in recent years knows, the government takes law enforcement at airports very seriously. A person accused by law enforcement of putting people in danger at an airport could face federal charges, especially if the Department of Homeland Security is involved. A conviction in federal court can lead to a stiff sentence, including prison time and a large fine.

Source: Boston.com, "Police review security after Philly runway scare," Patrick Walters, March 2, 2012

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