Jet Skier Who Exposed JFK Airport's Security Tried to Get Caught

Daniel Casillo unwittingly bypassed the airport's security system.

October 24, 2012, 2:36 AM

Oct. 24, 2012 — -- The man who unwittingly breached John F. Kennedy Airport's state-of-the art security system after his jet ski failed in New York's Jamaica Bay was trying to get caught as a way to be rescued.

"I didn't mean to do this, but I exposed something really important, and that's a flaw in security," Daniel Casillo told ABC News Tuesday.

Casillo, 31, swam up and entered the airport grounds Aug. 10 after his jet ski broke down outside the airport in Jamaica Bay. Casillo bypassed the airport's multimillion-dollar security system with little effort. He was arrested after the adventure that stunned security officials at America's sixth-largest airport.

His actions have resulted in changes at the facility.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the government agency that oversees the airport, denied Casillo's claims in a prepared statement today.

In the statement, the Port Authority said it took "took immediate action following the incident to increase not only Port Authority police patrols, but also increase our civilian patrols of the airport perimeter. Those patrols are 24/7 at all four airports."

In a separate statement today, Raytheon, the contractor that built the system, said, "We are supporting enhancements to airport procedures, operations and security technology to minimize the risk of further incursions. A number of those changes are already in place."

Casillo's night started aboard his newly repaired, bright-yellow personal watercraft in Jamaica Bay. It broke down just outside of the airport's approach.

"I looked around. No lights, no boats, nothing. No noise. Just pitch black," Casillo said.

With no idea what to do, Casillo spotted the lighted control tower in the distance. He left the water scooter and embarked on a three-mile swim to reach land. Still wearing his life jacket, Casillo then hiked through a muddy marsh when he reached a chain-link, barbed-wire fence.

"I just made the decision: I'm going to have to get found. I'm going to take it upon myself to get over this fence to get seen. Something has to happen," Casillo said.

Cold and disoriented, Casillo climbed the 8-foot fence, but nothing happened. Despite climbing the fence and violating the law, Casillo remained undetected and headed toward the control tower.

"That was the only thing lit up that I could go to," Casillo said.

Casillo walked across two runways past security, cameras and motion detectors that the airport recently paid millions of dollars to install.

"I figured I was going to be on cameras," he said, "that somebody is going to pick me up and maybe a helicopter is going to come or a police car."

Still unnoticed and wearing his life jacket, Casillo entered Delta's Terminal 3, dripping wet when he finally walked up to a cargo worker.

Casillo was arrested and charged with felony trespass for his misadventure. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, despite his telling ABC News Tuesday that police had roughed him up and denied him food, water and dry clothing.

The Port Authority denied that in a statement today.

"Mr. Casillo's claims are absolutely not true and, in fact, at no time during his questioning by the Queens DA's Office did he make any allegation of mistreatment by the PAPD," the statement read. "Further, contrary to what Mr. Casillo has told ABC News, he was offered medical attention multiple times, but refused treatment. Also contrary to what was reported, Mr. Casillo was brought dry clothes and allowed to change. We will fight these false claims."

Port Authority officials told ABC News at the time of the security breach that they "took immediate action to increase its police presence with round-the-clock patrols of the facility's perimeter and increased patrols by boat of the surrounding waterway."

"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.

Casillo says he could have walked on to any airplane of his choosing at any time during that night.

"The whole intention the whole time was to make myself seen," Casillo said.

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