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article imageVideo: Woman drives with infant on Phoenix Sky Harbor runway

By JohnThomas Didymus     Nov 18, 2012 in World
Phoenix - Police say a woman, KoKo Nicole Anderson, 21, from Mesa, drove in a car with her 2-month-old infant son through a gate at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. She crashed her Saturn sedan into a gate at a parking lot and drove up the runway.
ABC News reports that police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump, said the woman crashed through a half-open airport gate around 10 p.m. on Thursday and began driving across the runway. Police officers intercepted the car and detained the driver.
Police say they booked the woman into jail on a charge of aggravated DUI and criminal damage charges. According to the Police, the woman appeared to be driving under the influence of drugs. The Huffington Post reports police say they called a drug recognition expert.
The woman's mother, Bebe Anderson, told AP that she does not believe her daughter was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. She said her daughter has a history of mental illness. Bebe said:
"She's not going to be stable until she gets on medication. I'm so scared. I'm at a loss of how to help her. I'm just really hoping someone can advocate for her."
The Huffington Post reports police say they are aware of the possibility that the driver has mental health issues and that she would undergo psychiatric evaluation.
According to the police, the baby was not hurt and has been turned over to relatives. Crump said Anderson was so impaired that she did not know that her baby was in the car. The police spokesman said: "We don't believe her intent was to harm here. We believe it's impairment and poor decision making."
A Sky Harbor spokeswoman, Deborah Ostreicher, said an airport technician was testing the gate when Anderson crashed through. The technician notified the police and control tower and a halt to air traffic was ordered immediately.
According to the police, Anderson lost control after she crashed through the gate and ran into a portable toilet. She took off again and drove up the runway until an officer ran into her car and caused it to crash into a fence.
She did not get out of her car after it crashed. Officers say they found a pacifier in her mouth at the driver's seat and that she asked for her "flip-flop shoe."
Fortunately, there were no aircraft landing or taking off at the time. Airport operations were stopped for about 15 minutes.
ABC News reports that Jeff Price, an aviation professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver and former assistant security direct at Denver International airport, said that US airports need to improve security. He suggested that airports add bearers that pop up automatically to stop unauthorized vehicles from driving on the runway. According to Jeff Price, incidents of unauthorized cars breaching security are dangerous and may lead to aviation disasters during landing or taking off.
Price gave the example of military bases that often use pop-up barriers on their runways. He explained: "What we're trying to do is keep somebody from intentionally coming onto the field and driving into a plane, whether that's because they were drunk and accidentally hit the plane or they intentionally wanted to try and hit the aircraft. Frankly, you don't need to fill a car with explosives and drive it into a plane on the airfield. All you have to do is manage to get on the field and hit the plane while it's on takeoff or landing and you're going to have a catastrophe."
However, The Huffington Post reports that Sky Harbor officials say they are satisfied with airport's security. According to AP, Ostreicher said the airport has no plans to add more security features but would work with federal authorities to improve on security measures. She said: "The important thing to know here is that what was supposed to happen happened."
According to ABC News, the incident is the latest involving vehicles crashing through the Phoenix airports gates and fences and driving on its runways. In 2005, police chased a man who drove a stolen pickup through a gate and on the runway.
In 2003, two teenagers in a stolen car, crashed through a perimeter fence and drove on the airfield, causing aircraft operations to halt briefly.
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