Stranded jet skier bypasses JFK Airport security system

August 13, 2012 2:34:06 PM PDT
There are some big questions about security at John F. Kennedy International Airport after a stranded jet skier circumvented the airport's vaunted $100 million security system.

Now, the head of the Port Authority police union is demanding an investigation.

It didn't take much for a 31-year-old man wearing a brightly-colored life vest to penetrate the high-tech system. Lawkmakers are demanding answers.

"We're dealing with safety here," Senator Charles Schumer said. "God forbid a terrorist should get onto a runway of an airport."

But it didn't take a terrorist.

It was a stranded jet skier who swam three miles to reach the runway lights he could see from out in Jamaica Bay. Daniel Casillo easily breached the intrusion detection system that is supposed to protect all four Port Authority airports - JFK, LaGuardia, Newark and Teterboro.

Casillo climbed the 8-foot-high perimeter fence, then walked across two runways and entered a Delta gate in Terminal 3 without anyone noticing him or his bright yellow life jacket.

Raytheon built the $100 million system, promising to have it operational in 2008. But Eyewitness News has reported problem after problem in a series of exclusive reports. We found a quarter mile of the security fence in ruins. And the impressive-looking system was swamped with false alarms on windy and rainy days, or even when a squirrel got too close.

We found command center problems and monitoring equipment still sitting in cartons.

A year and a half before this latest failure, the Port Authority didn't want to be pressed on how much longer it would take to get past the years of delays and failures.

This is the same perimeter fence whose failures were exposed when the NYPD broke up a plot to bomb a fuel pipeline at Kennedy Airport. Early this year, the head of that plot was sentenced to life in prison.

The Port Authority says that it has stepped up patrols. It is reviewing the breach and it plans to meet with Raytheon this week. A Raytheon representative said, "We are working closely with the Port Authority to determine what happened."

Casillo was charged with criminal trespass.

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