By Steve Mosco
Officials want to know how a Howard Beach jet skier breached security at John F. Kennedy International Airport Friday night and walked undetected through two runways and into a terminal after becoming stranded in Jamaica Bay on his vessel.
“Here we see a man with no desire to test or to test what is perhaps the greatest airport security system go through undetected,” said City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) “I’m glad lapses were detected like this and not with a more serious incident.”
According to a report in the New York Post, Daniel Casillo, 31, swam 3 miles toward runway lights at JFK after his personal watercraft broke down. Once on land, he climbed an 8-foot-high perimeter fence and walked through the airport’s Perimeter Intrusion Detection System across two runways until he made it inside Terminal 3, where a Delta Airlines employee spotted him and alerted authorities.
Casillo, who was wearing a bright yellow life vest, was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing by Port Authority police. His girlfriend, Deanna Cowan, told the Post that Castillo ran into trouble just before 8 p.m. and he swam toward the only thing he could see: the runway lights at JFK.
A man who answered the phone at Cowan’s home said the couple’s lawyer had advised them to stop speaking with the media.
The Port Authority said in a statement Monday that it took immediate action to increase police patrols of the airport’s perimeter after the incident.
Raytheon, developed the Perimeter Intrusion Detection System. The company, according to its website, specializes in defense and homeland security technology.
“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. Our goal is to keep the region’s airports safe and secure at all times,” the Port Authority said in a statement.
A Raytheon representative said the company is working closely with the Port Authority in the investigation. The PIDS system has been installed at JFK since 2009.
The Post also reported that Port Authority police union President Paul Nunziato wants the authority’s inspector general to investigate how the $100 million security system failed to notice Casillo until he was already inside the terminal.
Meanwhile, Sanders said he plans to monitor the situation.
“Any attack on Kennedy will have a serious impact on my district,” he said. “I believe we need to have more roving patrols at the airport.”
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.