CLEVELAND — On the busiest travel day of the year, operations at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) were halted temporarily after a car crashed through a fence on airport property Wednesday evening.
According to a statement on Hopkins' social media platforms, at approximately 9 p.m., an SUV drove through an airfield gate and made it onto a runway. The driver abandoned his vehicle on the airfield after damaging runway lighting. "To maintain the highest level of safety and security, operations were temporarily on hold," CLE added.
Fairview Park police later issued more information on the incident, saying the 26-year-old male suspect had stolen the car from the Orbit Hotel on Brookpark Road around 8:15 p.m. The vehicle's owner had been looking for a lost pet when she got out and left it running, at which time the suspect hoped in and fled, knocking the woman down and causing minor injuries as she tried to stop him.
After crashing into the "restricted area" of the airport, Cleveland police arrested the man and subsequently handed him over to Fairview Park authorities. He is expected to appear in Rocky River Municipal Court on Monday, and could also face potential federal charges.
According to Hopkins Airport's status page, at least seven flights bound for Cleveland were diverted in-air to other destinations. All are due to arrive at Hopkins later on Wednesday or early Thursday.
Airport operations were shut down for approximately 30 minutes. A spokesperson for CLE emphasizes that passengers were never at risk during the incident.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing.