Scientology Crime Syndicate


Experts agree encephalitis prompted Alaska Airlines attack

Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A hulking passenger who broke into the cockpit of an Alaska Airlines plane and lunged for the controls last March was suffering a rare reaction to encephalitis, lawyers on both sides agreed.

Prosecutors and the defense attorney for Peter Bradley, 39, were working Friday on a plea bargain.

Bradley has no memory of the attack, and experts needed weeks to unravel the medical mystery, according to his attorney, Jerrold Ladar. They concluded that encephalitis -- an inflammation of the brain -- had made him delirious.

The plane was traveling from Mexico to San Francisco on March 16 when Bradley, returning from a family reunion, began babbling incoherently, stripping off his clothes and wandering from seat to seat. He then broke into the cockpit yelling, "I'm going to kill you!" and grabbed for the controls.

The pilot momentarily lost control of the jet as the co-pilot used an ax to fend off Bradley, who is 6-foot-2 and weighs 250 pounds. Passengers tackled him and held him down.

Bradley was charged with committing a violent act likely to endanger an airplane and assaulting a flight crew, federal offenses that carry up to 20 years in prison each. A trial had been set for Oct. 30.

He was freed on $100,000 bail and returned to his job as a carpenter in Blue Springs, Mo. He has suffered no subsequent outbursts.

Bradley's behavior mystified doctors and lawyers, friends and family. He had no alcohol or illegal drugs in his system and no history of psychiatric problems. His only run-ins with the law were two traffic violations in 1979.

He had been suffering from headaches for almost a month, however, and his condition worsened with a lack of sleep and the changing air pressure in the plane, his lawyer said. Doctors finally considered encephalitis.

Doctors on both sides agreed on the diagnosis, Ladar wrote in court papers. "Two highly qualified neurologists ... concur that Mr. Bradley was in a delirious state as a result of encephalitis," the lawyer said.

"When he read the reports from the passengers about what happened, he was horrified," Ladar said.


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