Sailor, Marine describe alleged attack by Navy ensign at Disney
By ARELIS R. HERNÁNDEZ | Orlando Sentinel (MCT) | Published: October 17, 2013
When Navy Ensign Austin DeVan Hill started swinging a broken piece of plastic pipe at Disney's Epcot earlier this week, an unsuspecting cashier never saw what was coming. Screams erupted as people rushed out of the Club Cool attraction.
When Hill turned to face two fellow servicemen, Thomas Craig and Jay Whittaker didn't flee. They charged and tackled him to the ground.
"I've seen plenty of drunk people, being from a small town in Texas, but I've never seen someone so drunk that they would attack someone randomly," Craig, 20, told the Orlando Sentinel.
Sheriff's deputies arrived minutes later and handcuffed the 23-year-old Hill, charging him with felony aggravated battery, felony battery and misdemeanor battery in the attack on three Disney workers.
Hill, a helicopter pilot-in-training and Naval Academy graduate, was clearly intoxicated when deputies said he entered a restricted area and punched two men. Both of them were sent to the hospital. He then went after the woman.
Craig, a Navy airman, and Whittaker, a Marine private, were at Disney for a trip organized by the military at their station in Pensacola. They were celebrating their upcoming graduation from air traffic control school when they came across Hill.
Neither authorities nor Disney security mentioned Craig or Whittaker in their report but pictures of the incident show the men holding Hill down to the ground with his hands pinned behind his back.
"We really didn't expect to come across anything like that in Disney World," Whittaker, 23, said. "I never experienced anything like that…I didn't understand what was happening and just reacted
The Navy is investigating the incident. Hill is stationed at Whiting Field in Milton, officials said.
Disney spokeswoman Kathleen Prihoda called the incident a security matter and would not comment.