Life’s a Breach: Jet Skier Evades JFK Airport’s Security System

Daniel Casillo swam to the airport, climbed a fence, crossed two runways and entered a terminal building dripping wet before someone got suspicious.

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Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

New York's John F. Kennedy airport

Last Friday, Daniel Casillo was jet skiing in Jamaica Bay, a coastal inlet on Long Island near John F. Kennedy International Airport,  when he ran out of fuel. So Casillo did what any (slightly illogical but undeniably resourceful) person would do: he swam toward the nearest, brightest object he could find: JFK’s runways.

Evading the airport’s $100 million security system — which included surveillance cameras and motion detectors aimed at preventing people from gaining access to some of the busiest runways in the nation – the 31-year-old swam ashore, scaled a fence and walked dripping wet into an airport terminal wearing a bright yellow life jacket.

(READ: Lifeguard Who Got Fired For Saving Drowning Swimmer Declines Offer to Return)

Casillo, who transversed two runways (an estimated distance of nearly two miles) before he was spotted by an airline employee, was interrogated and charged with criminal trespassing, even though he was merely looking for help.

Though Casillo was released without bail and has an October court date, some think he should have been rewarded for his heroics.

“I think he should be given dinner and a bottle of champagne for showing us our faults,” Nicholas Casale, an NYPD veteran and former MTA deputy security director for counterterrorism, told ABC News.

For its part, New York Port Authority is taking the incident seriously. Officials told ABC News they “took immediate action to increase its police presence with round the clock patrols of the facility’s perimeter and increased patrols by boat of the surrounding waterway.”

“We have called for an expedited review of the incident and a complete investigation to determine how Raytheon’s perimeter intrusion detection system — which exceeds federal requirements — could be improved,” the Port Authority said in a statement.

Thankfully, the review was prompted by a benign water sport enthusiast.

“Thank God it wasn’t a terrorist, but we have to look at it as if we had another attack,” Isaac Yeffet, former chief of security for Israeli airline El Al told the Associated Press. “That’s the only way we’ll improve the system.”

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6 comments
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eifg
eifg

How can he be charged?  He was stranded and swam to shore for his own safety not to invade the airport.  I imagine that the people who spent $100 million on the security system are embarrassed but that is not this guy's fault.

Max
Max

He wasn't charged for swimming to shore. He was charged for climbing an 8-foot fence that had "No trespassing" signs. If it was possible to go around, he should've done so.

How would you like it if someone broke into your house, claiming to be lost and looking for help?

IceTrey
IceTrey

He never claimed he was lost. He obviously knew he was at JFK. If I lived in a remote area and someone who really needed help broke into my house I wouldn't be that upset.

eifg
eifg

He did not break into a private home, the airport is a public facility and he did not enter with the intent of causing harm.  I don't know if it was possible to go around or not.  I suspect that the size of the airport would make it difficult.  I am willing to forgive the guy for climbing the fence since was in a bad situation.  Maybe he did not pick the best solution but I don't think it makes him a criminal.

IceTrey
IceTrey

The breech was detected. When the guy walked up to the ticket counter and asked for help. They didn't lock down the airport.

Max
Max

I don't think an airport runway is a public facility. Had the breech been detected, the airport could've been locked down, causing delays for many people. The charges may be dropped in the end, but he did trespass, and the Port Authority has to deter copycats.