Alaska Air agent speaks for first time about attack at gate

SEATTLE — An Alaska Airlines customer service agent speaks out, a year and a half after a disgruntled passenger knocked her out cold.

“He assaulted me,” said Jill Lopotosky. “He’s changed my life forever and, you know, the ultimate would be to see him do time.”

She has a message for other airline employees still dealing with violent passengers.

The California man who struck the agent was a no show at his arraignment. Now, he’s wanted on a felony warrant.

His victim says the attack has forever changed her life.

She is still in pain, on leave from Alaska Airlines, again.  Now she is hoping to help others by telling her story.

“Like I said, it’s a lifetime thing,” said Lopotosky. “And I have to deal with it. And he gets to live his life.”

Lopotosky sat beside her twin sister, Jana Simpson, both of them lead customer service agents for Alaska Airlines. Both were deeply affected by the attack on Jill 18 months ago when she told an intoxicated passenger he couldn’t board a flight.

“And then, the next thing I knew, he came at me,” said Jill. “And apparently, my coworker said, I was knocked out for a short time when I woke up. By then he was already gone out the door.”

“When she got hurt, I was the first person she called,” said Jana, “because I was trying to call her in the midst of the attack and I didn’t know what was going on.”

Jill has been in agony ever since.

“I partially dislocated my shoulder,” she said. “I have headaches, blurred vision. I couldn’t drive. I was getting nauseous.”

The man who assaulted her was later identified in court records as Mark Alan Hicks of Folsom, Califonia. He skipped out on his arraignment and is still on the run.

Jill says he is not the only one.

“I’d like to say blame it on the pandemic,” she said. “That’s part of the problem because it was a mask issue. But there’s a lot of intoxicated passengers flying, its really hard at the airport.”

And it is causing her and her coworkers a lot of mental anguish.

“I never in my life would have expected someone to do this to me,” said Jill. “So that is why I was not prepared to get knocked over.”

She has this message for others who have been hurt, too.

“It’s okay to not be ok and to ask for help, which I finally did,” she says. “I know it was hard, but I did it.”

As for Hicks?

“I want an apology which I probably will never get.”

And she wants Hicks to serve time.

He has been banned from ever flying Alaska again. But there is no industry wide ban. So, he can fly with anybody else.