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Man Held After Driving Under Jet at LAX

Crime: Suspect allegedly goes under security gate, then motors onto taxiway.

February 05, 1996|GREG KRIKORIAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Airport police arrested a 25-year-old motorist Sunday morning after he allegedly skirted a security gate at Los Angeles International Airport and drove his car onto a taxiway, where he traveled underneath the wing of a departing jetliner.

No one was injured in the 8:30 a.m. incident and airport police said they could not explain the actions of the motorist, identified as Kang Min Wang.

"He doesn't appear to be crazy or anything," said Lt. Howard Whitehead. "But he is not talking so we can't get anything out of him."

Officials said Wang entered a restricted area of LAX at 96th Street by driving underneath a metal security gate just as a service truck was exiting the airfield. Once inside, the motorist drove west on a service road, passing two terminals before driving beneath the wing of a USAir flight bound for Charlotte, N.C., with 138 passengers, according to airport spokeswoman Nancy Suey Castles.

Moments later, she said, Wang passed by an Aeromexico jetliner being towed along the taxiway to board passengers for a flight to Mexico City. It was at that point that an airport police officer caught up with Wang's car and used his patrol car to force it into an airport sign.

Wang was arrested without incident, the spokeswoman said, and did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Airport officials said they were investigating the incident to determine if security measures need tightening, but believed the event did not expose any shortcomings.

Whitehead noted that skirting the metal arms of the gate was difficult and "the timing has to be almost perfect." What's more, Wang was stopped "two to three minutes" after authorities were notified and his car got just 300 feet into the airfield, the airport police official said.

Added Castles: "The airport's security procedures are continually being evaluated. Therefore the circumstances [of] this particular incident will be evaluated and if there is any need for change, we will [make it]."

Wang was taken to the LAPD's Pacific Division and later to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center for psychiatric observation pending further investigation by local and federal authorities, officials said.

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