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Mexican national gets 18 months for trying to enter cockpit of flight leaving LAX

Luis Dominguez said he couldn't breathe and wanted to leave the airplane. He broke a leg on the way out of the emergency exit.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — A Mexican man was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for trying to enter the cockpit of a SkyWest flight as it was taxiing for takeoff at Los Angeles International Airport

Luis Armando Victoria Dominguez, 34, apologized profusely for his actions in June of last year at a sentencing hearing Wednesday.

"I was not myself," Dominguez said through a translator. "I was under the influence of drugs, and when I entered the airplane I couldn't breath."

When he failed to gain entry to the cockpit, Dominguez opened one of the emergency exits and jumped out of the airplane, missing the partially deployed emergency slide and breaking his leg as he landed on the tarmac. According to Dominguez, he was having a fright and didn't want to fly after he had boarded the plane bound for Salt Lake City.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee sentenced Dominguez to the 18-month prison term the Justice Department had asked for — the low end of the sentencing guidelines — citing his lack of criminal history. She also ordered him to pay $20,132 in restitution to SkyWest for the damage to the aircraft.

The judge also weighed the fact that Dominguez has a history of suffering from anxiety and panic attacks and that he had been using methamphetamine two days prior to the incident. He probably should avoid flying all together given his mental issues, the judge said.

"This was outrageous conduct," Gee said. "What Mr. Dominguez did should never happen on an airplane."

Dominguez's lawyer had asked the judge to sentence him time served.

Dominguez pleaded guilty to interfering and intimidating the flight crew. by banging on the cockpit door and exiting the aircraft through the emergency. In his sentencing memorandum, the La Paz, Mexico, native's attorney said his client speaks little to no English and felt overwhelmed the entire day at LAX, struggling to communicate with airport personnel and to navigate the airport, and being uncertain whether he entered the correct flight.

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