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Flight attendant tested drunk after flight to Grand Forks

Pinnacle Air

A drunk Pinnacle Airlines flight attendant had a blood alcohol content more than twice the legal driving limit Sunday when she was taken off a Delta connecting flight at the Grand Forks International Airport.

The flight was canceled and the Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it's investigating the incident, as is Pinnacle, the Memphis-based company that flies connecting flights for Delta.

According to a report made available Tuesday from Beth Skari, the Grand Forks police officer on duty Sunday at the airport, a Delta Airlines employee asked her to assist with an employee who appeared intoxicated when the Pinnacle jet landed.

After determining the woman was intoxicated, police filed the report as inactive and, because it is not a criminal matter, turned over its evidence to the airline, a police spokeswoman said.

The flight attendant, a woman of 51 from a Twin Cities suburb, was the sole flight attendant on the Pinnacle jet that had just arrived from Minneapolis and was scheduled to leave on the return flight at 1:07 p.m.

But a nurse practitioner on the arriving flight had told the pilot and co-pilot that the woman appeared drunk, Skari wrote in her report. Sgt. Jay Middleton came to the airport to assist Skari with the incident.

Skari noted than when she interviewed the flight attendant, "...she spoke with a thick tongue and was slurring her speech, making her hard to understand . . . . (She) denied consuming any alcohol and stated she did not have any medical conditions. (She) did sway and was very deliberate in her movements and when walking. I could smell a moderate odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from her breath, and had (her) blow in my face."

The woman cooperated with Skari, but failed several sobriety tests and misspelled her own name when giving it to Skari, according to the police report.

Her blood alcohol content showed up at 0.186 on a breathalyzer.

In North Dakota and Minnesota, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher.

A Pinnacle employee took the woman to Altru Hospital for more testing.

Meanwhile, Pinnacle staff did a "sweep," of the 50-passenger jet, and found three empty "sampler-size" 50-milliliter bottles of Skyy Vodka, that gave off the same odor Skari smelled on the flight attendant's breath, according to Skari's report. Such a sampler bottle holds 1.7 ounces of liquid.

There was no indication the flight from Minneapolis had served any alcohol.

Pinnacle spokesman Joe Williams told the Herald that the flight attendant was relieved of duty pending its own investigation.

Pinnacle requires all flight crews, including flight attendants, to abstain from alcohol for 12 hours before a flight, a stricter standard than the FAA's eight-hour requirement, Williams said.

An FAA spokeswoman said Monday little information was available until the investigation was completed.

The 30 passengers on the scheduled departure were put on later flights Sunday, Williams said.

A Grand Forks police officer is on duty for all flights coming in and out of Grand Forks to assist the airlines and the airport.