EAGLE COUNTY — A former Miss Venezuela faces federal charges after she allegedly got drunk on an international flight, assaulted a male flight attendant and the crew had to turn the plane around and go home.
Carmen Lechin, Miss Venezuela in 1984 and runner-up in that year’s Miss Universe pageant, was sentenced to two years probation in Eagle County after an incident on Christmas Eve 2011 resulted charges of eluding a police officer, harassment, driving under the influence and domestic violence.
Her probation was transferred to Houston, where she lives, according to court records. Texas authorities say drinking on that United flight from Houston to Bogata, Colombia, violated her probation, and she was back in Eagle County court this past month.
Carmen Lechin, 48, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Houston on federal charges of interfering with a flight crew attendant, stemming from the incident on that United flight to Bogata. That trial is scheduled for Jan. 27 in Houston. After that’s finished, she’ll be returned to Eagle County to deal with her probation violations.
On June 6, Carmen Lechin was on a United airlines flight from Houston to Bogata, Colombia.
According to the federal indictment, Lechin “knowingly and unlawfully intimidated flight attendant Samuel Oliver by creating a disturbance in flight through her abusive language, assaultive behavior and her refusal to comply with directions, instructions and warnings.”
Sources close to the incident say Carmen Lechin was intoxicated, and kicking and screaming so much that the pilots turned the plane around and returned to Houston. FBI agents were called out to meet the plane, said Special Agent Shauna Dunlap, with the FBI’s Houston office.
The next day, June 7, Carmen Lechin’s Texas probation officer filed a complaint alleging that Carmen Lechin had violated her probation, citing the federal charges and her drinking. Terms of Lechin’s probation prohibited her using alcohol and drugs and stipulated she have no new violations of law.
Carmen Maria Montiel Avila won the Miss Venezuela title in 1984 as a 20-year-old. On July 9, 1984, she represented Venezuela in the Miss Universe pageant in Miami, where she finished as second runner-up.
Eagle County connection
On Christmas Eve 2011, Eagle County sheriff’s deputies were summoned to a Beaver Creek condo by Carmen Lechin’s husband, Alex, who said she smacked him in the head.
She was already free on bond for a similar incident on Thanksgiving 2011, and her Christmas Eve drinking ran counter to the conditions of her bond, the police report said.
Carmen Lechin got in a blue Hummer H3, while intoxicated and headed east up Interstate 70.
Eagle County Sheriff’s Master Deputy Gianni Robinson was in the Beaver Creek condo talking with Alex Lechin, when Carmen Lechin called Alex’s cell phone.
Alex Lechin pleaded with his wife to return to the condo and speak to the police, the report says. Then, Robinson took a crack at it, using Alex’s cell phone to ask Carmen Lechin to stop where she was, so another officer could have a word with her, the report says.
Carmen Lechin yelled into the phone that she was not stupid, “because she knows that she is just going to jail if she stops,” she reportedly said.
Just 17 minutes after sheriff’s deputies arrived at the Lechin’s Beaver Creek condo, they spotted the blue Hummer Carmen Lechin was driving on I-70. Carmen Lechin did not respond to the lights and sirens the deputies were running as they chased her, police said. She didn’t stop and, deputies said, screamed into the cell phone that she wasn’t going to.
Sheriff’s deputies were joined by Avon police, Vail police and the Colorado State Patrol. They stretched a “spike strip” across the highway (one of those rubber strips with big nails sticking up which puncture holes in tires).
They’re awfully effective, and blew out Alex Lechin’s two front tires.
But Carmen Lechin was true to her word and kept driving, weaving back and forth across the eastbound lane, and when a State Patrol trooper pulled up beside her she might have tried to run into the trooper’s car, they say.
She finally did stop and was arrested.
Carmen Lechin was charged with assault, causing an injury and domestic violence.
She was sentenced to two years probation, which Texas authorities say she violated by getting drunk on the United Flight to Bogata.
Carmen Lechin and her husband, Alex Eduardo Lechin, filed for divorce in Houston.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.