‘It was a cat tranquilizer’ says man facing meth charges after flight diverted to Charleston

Source: Live 5
Updated: Mar. 18, 2021 at 1:09 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A judge set bond Thursday afternoon for a man Charleston International Airport Police arrested after responding to a report of a fight on a plane during which a man’s ear was allegedly bitten off.

Police say John Yurkovich, 45, was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine based on the total weight of a white crystal substance found in the his pocket, the report states. An officer said he located 1.5 grams of the substance, which field-tested positive for methamphetamine in the man’s pocket.

In court, Yurkovich disputed the meth charge.

“It’s not what they say it is. That’s a special kind of . . . it’s a cat tranquilizer actually. It’s not what they’re saying it is,” Yurkovich said.

A judge set a surety bond of $50,000 for Yurkovitch Thursday afternoon.

The incident occurred on a United Airlines plane flying from Newark, New Jersey, to Miami, according to an incident report. The plane landed in Charleston at 10:10 a.m. Wednesday, the report states.

When officers boarded the plane, they reported seeing a man face down on the floor of the aircraft being restrained with his hands behind his back with zip ties and a belt. The man’s face was also covered with his shirt, the report states.

Police took the man for additional questioning.

The victim, who suffered a laceration to his left ear, told police he was sitting next to the man on the flight. He said the man got up from his seat to go to the restroom and returned a short time later and “seemed very agitated.” He said the man started becoming restless and bounced around in his seat.

The man asked a flight attendant for water and then rose to retrieve what appeared to be pills from his carry-on bag in an overhead bin, the victim said.

The man then sat back down in his seat and began to “scream and thrash around,” the report states.

The victim said he held his arm up to protect himself from being struck and said the man struck him with a closed fist on the right side of his face causing his glasses to break.

Witnesses and other passengers then intervened to restrain the man, the report states.

A second victim said the man struck him and may have caused a broken nose.

Police talked to a third victim who said he was punched in the head as well.

A passenger on the plane who identified himself as a physician told police he administered a shot of Benadryl to the man’s buttocks to help sedate him.

He was being held at the Al Cannon Detention Center and additional charges from the FBI are pending the report states.

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