It was the moment all parents dread. Your baby’s screaming their lungs out on a plane and everyone’s looking at you. But for Jessica Bennett, things got a whole lot more serious when a drunk, irate passenger came down the plane and slapped her toddler son.
Now Joe Hundley will spend eight months in prison for assaulting toddler Jonah on the Atlanta-bound flight. Prosecutors had recommended six months in prison after reaching a plea agreement with the man, however the judge chose to impose a higher sentence due to Hundley’s criminal history which includes a previous assault change.
In his statement to the court Hundley apologised to the child's mother, explaining that he was returning from a trip to turn off his son's life support after he suffered from an insulin overdose. That coupled with his alcoholism led to the incident.
"I'm very sorry," Hundley told the court. "I made the most terrible day in my life much worse for myself and others."
The fact remains that Joe Rickey Hundley is every parent's worst nightmare.
Nobody wants to be the parent with a crying toddler on a plane, but it's a reality of traveling with children. It happens and we can only hope our fellow passengers are understanding and compassionate about it. Travel with kids is hard enough without the fear of a violent threat to your child.
Jessica Bennett was doing her best to comfort her crying 19-month-old adopted son Jonah during a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta, but the pressure on his little ears was too much during the decent. Most babies and young children will cry during landing and apparently crying helps to unblock their ears and relieve the pressure.
But what happened next is horrific.
Hundley, demanded she "shut that nigger baby up"' and added that he was too big to be a "lap baby".
When she said, "What did you just say?" he leaned in and said it directly into her ear. That was when he reached over and slapped little Jonah on the face, just under his right eye.
"When I looked at Jonah's face his eye was swollen...and it was bleeding. I was just scared to death," Mrs Bennett told ABC News.
Hundley was arrested and charged with assault. He originally denied the claims, saying he only asked the mum to quiet the child. He was then fired from his job at AGC Aeropsace & Defence and the company issued the following statement saying, "Reports of the recent behaviour of one of our business unit executives while on personal travel are offensive and disturbing. We have taken this matter very seriously and worked diligently to examine it since learning of the matter on Friday afternoon. As of Sunday, the executive is no longer employed with the company."
"We wish to emphasise that the behaviour that has been described is contradictory to our values, embarrassing and does not in any way reflect the patriotic character of the men and women of diverse backgrounds who work tirelessly in our business."
Have you ever had a scary run-in with a stranger over the behaviour of your children?