Family of student arrested in US for trying to steal plane speaks out

Friday, September 21, 2018

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The former principal of the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Clement Sankat says the focus of his family now is to provide “all the legal, mental, emotional and parental support possible” to his 22-year-old son who was arrested in the United States on Thursday and charged for trying to steal a passenger jet at an Orlando airport.

US law enforcement authorities said that Nishal Sankat, had parked his car about 150 yards from the plane early on Thursday and kept it running before jumping the airport fence.

Orlando Melbourne International Airport spokeswoman Lori Booker told reporters that after he reached the flight deck of the plane, two technicians and two security guards detained him before he could attempt to start the aircraft.

In a brief statement, the family said they “appreciate the many inquiries and calls of support they have received as they go through this extremely difficult period.

“At this time, they have not yet been able to speak with their son, and since they have limited information, are still trying to ascertain all the facts surrounding the incident, and his well-being. As expected, their focus right now is on providing all the legal, mental, emotional and parental support possible.”

The family said that what has occurred “acutely underscores to the family the need to be aware of the challenges young students face, especially those living away from home and family”.

The American Airlines plane was at a maintenance facility for the installation of broadband WiFi, a spokeswoman for the airline said in an email.

The incident prompted the airport to be shut down for five hours and caused two flights to be delayed.

Sankat was charged with criminal theft of an aircraft, criminal trespassing and visa violation hours. He is a dual citizen of Canada and Trinidad and Tobago with no criminal history, the police said.

Booker told reporters a robot device was used to ensure nothing dangerous was in the parked vehicle left behind. The car was towed away after it was declared safe.

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