Local News

Man Charged After Being Found on Plane at RDU

Posted December 19, 2006 1:38 p.m. EST
Updated December 20, 2006 6:46 a.m. EST

A flight from Raleigh-Durham International Airport to Cincinnati was canceled Tuesday morning after a man was found on the plane, authorities said.

Gregory Scott Wester, 30, of Old Mill Road in Fuquay-Varina, was charged by RDU police with first-degree trespassing and possession of a controlled substance, authorities said.

The FBI and the Transportation Security Administration also charged him with access to an aircraft without permission.

Wester was being held at the Wake County Jail Tuesday evening and is scheduled to appear in a federal court Friday morning.

Crews were cleaning a Delta 737 plane at about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday when they saw a man come aboard and sit down, RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said.

He apparently climbed a 7-foot-tall, barbed-wire fence at the airport perimeter and told authorities he was trying to catch a flight, Hamlin said, downplaying the security breach.

Investigators said they believe Wester used the same lift that the cleaning crew had used to board the rear of the plane.

"At no time was he an apparent threat to any individuals or any aircraft," Hamlin said.

"Other layers of security (beyond the fence) include identifying people who are on the ramp, who are on aircraft that aren't supposed to be there," she added. "That procedure worked in this case."

Wester was calm but disoriented when he was taken into custody, Hamlin said.

Law-enforcement officers searched him and found two airport parking receipts, cigarettes, a lighter and an unmarked bottle containing several tablets commonly prescribed for anxiety and depression.

WRAL spoke with Wester's father Tuesday night. He said he did not think his son meant to cause any harm.

Delta's 6 a.m. flight to Cincinnati was canceled so the plane could be swept again for security, Hamlin said. All other aircraft on the Terminal A ramp and the entire ramp area also were checked after Wester was arrested.

Wester was also arrested in April on a breaking and entering charge, according to Wake County court records. No details about that incident were available Tuesday evening.