Former professor pleads guilty to air rage

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By Siri Agrell

Former Ryerson theatre professor Donald MacQuarrie pleaded guilty last Thursday to charges he lost control on an American Airlines flight on December, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing in Detroit.

MacQuarrie, 53, was arrested Dec. 28 at Detroit Metropolitan Airport while on his way from Toronto to Hawaii with his wife, Melanie, to celebrate his recent retirement from Ryerson.
According to an affidavit given by FBI Special Agent Terry Booth on Dec. 29, a passenger on the flight left his seat and began shouting, “We are all going to die.”

When the crew tried to subdue the passenger, he kicked the plane’s captain in the chest.

The affidavit goes on to say that MacQuarrie’s wife, when interviewed by police after the incident, said that her husband “is an alcoholic and a ‘binge’ drinker.”

She said the two drank three beers before getting on the plane, bought two bottles of vodka at the duty-free store and had two drinks before the plane took off.

MacQuarrie, who taught at Ryerson since the late 1970s and retired in December, pleaded guilty to a single count of interference with a flight crew, an offence that could carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 (US). But his guilty plea could reduce his time in jail to months instead of years.

No date has been set for sentencing.

MacQuarrie’s lawyer Gerald Lorence refused to speak to The Eyeopener about the case. MacQuarrie did not return to telephone calls.

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