That’s when she told airline workers her luggage contained a bomb, officials say.
Verbitsky, 46, was swiftly arrested, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Tuesday. The plane’s takeoff was delayed, and passengers were escorted off before authorities scoured the aircraft for a bomb.
They found nothing.
Verbitsky is now facing a charge of false reporting concerning planting a bomb, explosive or weapon of mass destruction, according to the sheriff’s office. Her bail was set at $10,000, and a judge ordered her to undergo a mental health evaluation, the Sun-Times reported. Verbitsky posted bail on Tuesday.
“It was a mistake,” a relative of Verbitsky, who requested not to be named, told the Sun-Times. “She was nervous about the son needing to go to school. It was a mess but it was definitely not meant to be.”
Verbitsky did not respond to phone messages late Wednesday. Court records do not list an attorney.
Verbitsky’s alleged threat represents the latest case of airline passengers causing public and often viral disturbances in recent months. She is at least the second person accused of making a bomb threat at the Fort Lauderdale airport in the last two months.
In July, 74-year-old Wegal Rosen was arrested after allegedly telling an employee at the ticketing counter there was a bomb in his bag, forcing the airport to evacuate three terminals, close roads and cancel or delay dozens of flights. Rosen was charged with the same crime as Verbitsky and could face up to 15 years in prison. A judge ordered him not to return to the Fort Lauderdale airport.
A month earlier, federal law enforcement arrested a Georgia man after he allegedly called into Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown, Pa., concerned that his daughter was smuggling marijuana on a flight. Frustrated, he asked a Delta employee what they would do if he said there was a bomb on the plane, according to prosecutors. The plane, already on the tarmac, was evacuated, and authorities did not find a bomb or drugs.
On Monday, the same day Verbitsky allegedly made the bomb threat, a man was captured on video insisting to be let off an airborne flight bound for Salt Lake City. Video showed him growling and biting his mask. After the plane landed, he was arrested.