Man who tried to open plane door faces Mass. judge

Published:

BOSTON (AP) -- A North Carolina business executive who authorities say became disoriented and tried to open a cabin door on a US Airways Express commuter jet from Maine to Philadelphia was released on $500 bail at his arraignment in Boston on Friday.

Prosecutors had requested $1,500 bail at the arraignment Friday of 40-year-old Michael J. Ensalaco, of Mooresville, N.C.

Massachusetts State Police held Ensalaco overnight on a charge of interfering with a flight crew after the pilot diverted the flight to Boston on Thursday.

His lawyer said at the arraignment in East Boston District Court that his client suffers from a neurological disorder that causes disassociation and confusion. The lawyer says he expects charges to eventually be dropped because of the medical condition.

"The prosecutor this morning did tell the judge that it appears to be a medical problem, which is the right thing to do," Ensalaco's attorney, Michael Natola, told The Associated Press.

He suffers from a type of seizure disorder "in which he has disassociation, confusion, and doesn't remember what he does," Natola said.

Passengers who witnessed the incident and Ensalaco's attorney say the man was looking for the bathroom and was not aggressive.

"He was opening the cabin door, so we were like, 'What are you doing?'" Lauren Moore told New England Cable News. "The flight attendant rushed over and said, 'What are you doing? Please sit down.' and he sat the man down."

Ensalaco was taken to the back of the aircraft where he sat for the remainder of the flight unrestrained, his attorney said.

Friends and family members say Ensalaco is a married father of five.

His attorney said Ensalaco runs a North Carolina division of a Massachusetts business.