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SkyWest Airlines pilot, at helm of Delta flight, arrested for suspected drunkenness

A 38-year-old pilot was arrested in South Dakota on Wednesday morning under suspicion of operating a flight under the influence of alcohol, local police say.

Russel Duszak was taken into custody after TSA officers smelled alcohol on him and called local law enforcement, a Rapid City Police Department spokesperson told CBS News.

After an investigation, police said it was determined the pilot was in violation of the statute that prohibits flying with a blood-alcohol content of over .04.

Duszak, from Salt Lake City, was operating Delta Connection 4574 flight to his home town. He is a pilot for SkyWest Airlines, a regional airline that was operating for Delta.

Delta declined comment to CBS News, deferring to SkyWest. That airline said in a statement it is investigating and apologized for the delay, blaming it on a “crewmember issue.” 

Barbara Larsen was on the flight, she spoke to CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave.

“I’ll be pretty anxious now wondering where the copilot has been night before,” she said. 

Duszak has been placed on administrative leave and removed from flying duties.  

 Drunk pilot cases are rare, according to the FAA, 10 were arrested last year for having a blood alcohol concentration of .04 or greater, Van Cleave reported.

In August two United pilots were busted, suspected of being intoxicated as they prepared to fly 141 passengers from Scotland to the U.S. 

Also that month, John Maguire, American Airlines co-pilot pleaded no contest to charges he was drunk when he was removed from a Detroit to Philly flight in March.

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