Woman Dies On AA Flight After Being Refused Help, Then Given Empty Oxygen Tanks

A 44-year-old Brooklyn woman was returning from vacation in Haiti when she began to have trouble breathing. According to her cousin who was on the flight with her, she was refused help twice by the flight attendant, then she was brought two oxygen tanks with masks—but both were empty. Her cousin requested an emergency landing, but before they could touch down in Miami she was dead, so the plane continued to JFK. The airline isn’t commenting on why the emergency tanks were empty in the first place. “After the flight attendant refused to administer oxygen to Ms. Desir, she became distressed, pleading, ‘Don’t let me die,’ Mr. Oliver recalled.”

He said other passengers aboard Flight 896 became agitated over the situation, and the flight attendant, apparently after phone consultation with the cockpit, tried to administer oxygen from a portable tank and mask, but the tank was empty.

Mr. Oliver said two doctors and two nurses who were aboard tried to administer oxygen from a second tank, which was also empty.

Sonja Whitemon, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, would not comment on Mr. Oliver’s claims of faulty medical equipment aboard the plane.

Ms. Desir was placed on the floor and a nurse tried to resuscitate her, but to no avail, Mr. Oliver said. “I cannot believe what is happening on the plane,” he said, sobbing. “She cannot get up, and nothing on the plane works.”

Thus continues American Airlines’ zero-tolerance rule to illness and health emergencies, and their devotion to creating unsafe environments for employees and passengers.

(Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)

“Woman, 44, Dies on Plane With 2 Empty Oxygen Tanks “ [New York Times]

(Airplane photo: Adrian Pingstone)

UPDATE: American Airlines disputes this story.