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Stranded jet skier thwarts JFK Airport's $100M security system

10:52 AM, Aug 13, 2012   |    comments
An aerial view of John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) on April 15, 2011 in the Jamaica neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. ((Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK -- A jet-skier who became stranded in a New York City bay reached safety by swimming to shore near New York JFK Airport and then walking undetected past two runways and up to a terminal Friday night.

Much to the consternation of authorities, the man's efforts apparently outwitted the airport's $100 million, state-of-the-art perimeter surveillance system.

The incident began when the man, identified as 31-year-old Daniel Casillo, went out "racing" in his watercraft after drinking with buddies, the New York Post reports.

"They were trying to see who had the fastest jet skis, like idiots," his girlfriend, Deanna Cowan, says to the Post.

But Casillo's jet ski broke down around 7:45 p.m. ET in Jamaica Bay, which fronts JFK airport at its eastern edge.

The Post writes that when his friends didn't notice his absence, "the stranded Casillo swam three miles toward the only thing he could see - the lights of Runway 4-Left, which sticks out into the bay."

Wearing a bright yellow life jacket, he emerged "dripping wet" and climbed an 8-foot-high perimeter fence before walking unnoticed across that runway "and intersecting Runway 31L," the Post writes.

He was arrested and charged with criminal trespass after he approached a Delta ground worker near Terminal 3's Gate 10, according to the Post.

The incident has drawn outrage from local politicians and officials.

"We're dealing with safety here," Senator Charles Schumer says to New York's WABC-TV. "God forbid a terrorist should get onto a runway of an airport," he adds to the station, which notes in its report that this is not the first problem with the security system.

And were strong words from the police union at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where officials want to know how the wayward jet-skier was able to walk undetected past the motion sensors and closed-circuit cameras that are part of the airport's "Perimeter Intrusion Detection System."

The authority paid $100 million for the system that is supposed to help protect the busy New York airport against terrorists.

Robert Egbert, a spokesman for authority's Police Benevolent Association, tells the New York Post that the union is "demanding a (Port Authority) inspector's general investigation into the failed Perimeter Intrusion Detection System, the cost over-runs and the relationship between the Port Authority and Raytheon, the vendor."

A Raytheon spokesman tells the Post: "We are working closely with the Port Authority to determine what happened."

As for Casillo, one former New York transit authority says there are lessons from his misadventure.

"I think he should be given dinner and a bottle of champagne for showing us our faults," Nicholas Casale, an NYPD veteran and former deputy security director for counterterrorism for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, says to ABC's Good Morning America.

(USA Today)

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