Washington doctor apologizes for threatening comments

Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2001

SITKA (AP) -- The Washington doctor who was arrested in Sitka for making threatening comments to an Alaska Airlines ticket agent apologized Tuesday for his actions.

Dr. Bruce Stevenson was arrested at the Sitka airport Thursday, when commercial flights were allowed to resume following the terrorist attacks on the East Coast. The state, however, decided not to prosecute, although Alaska Airlines has banned the 58-year-old doctor from its planes for life.

In last week's incident, Stevenson became upset about possible delays in retrieving baggage and reportedly told the ticket agent he would ''come back as an assassin'' if that occurred.

Stevenson, a doctor at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, issued a prepared statement Tuesday, saying he was sorry for the stress his comments caused.

Stevenson has been placed on indefinite administrative leave because of the incident, said hospital spokeswoman Linda Stepanich. The hospital faxed the doctor's comments to the Daily Sentinel in Sitka.

In the statement, Stevenson wrote:

''I made an inappropriate remark that was interpreted as a threat.

''I demonstrated a terrible lack of judgment and I sincerely apologize for my actions. As a frequent traveler to Alaska, I have built many warm relationships over the years. I genuinely regret jeopardizing the goodwill of the many friends and colleagues I have in your fine state.

''I am very sorry that this incident added to the stress of airline, airport and public officials during this difficult time.''

Police had charged the doctor with felony terroristic threatening and misdemeanor fourth degree assault. Stevenson spent a night in the Sitka jail before charges were dropped Friday after the state decided not to prosecute.

Assistant District Attorney Corinne Vorenkamp called Stevenson's actions ''appalling,'' but said they were not illegal under state law.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Anchorage said the federal government did not have jurisdiction in the incident.

The Sitka Police Department criticized the state's refusal to take Stevenson to court. Police Chief Bill McLendon told the Sentinel he was considering filing a formal complaint with the attorney general's office.

Stevenson left Sitka Friday evening as a passenger on a medevac flight taking a patient to Seattle.

A spokesman at Airlift Northwest, which flew the medevac flight, said ''it is not unusual for us to help a stranded doctor get back to his facility, which was the case here.''

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