Alaska airlines are faced with a lawsuit after an airport worker employed by them left a 74-year-old woman in a wheelchair in front of an escalator alone instead of helping her to a connecting flight. The woman got stuck on the concourse and, as can be seen in the video, then stumbles down the escalator. She later died in the hospital of her wounds.
The incident took place at Portland International Airport.
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Ms Bernice Kekona was traveling back from Maui to her home near Spokane during the summer when the gate-to-gate assistance worker left her alone in front of the escalator. Ms Kekona assumed it was the elevator entrance at first and proceeded a bit forward. But as soon as she realised it was the escalator she tried to back up still, but was unable to get off. She landed down the escalator with her scooter, weighing several hundred pounds, landing on top of her.
Mr. Troy Nelson, one of the Spokane attorneys representing Kekona’s estate, commented: “She was 74 and a diabetic, and she got confused from time to time in settings that weren’t familiar to her.”
“She was fine at the neighborhood grocery store, but at places like the Portland International Airport, she had a tendency to get confused.”
Though she survived the fall at first, the wounds resulting from it got infected and her leg had to be amputated the next month. She died shortly after that operation.
Alaska Airlines meanwhile claims the gate-to-gate escort worker was employed through a subcontractor of theirs, Huntleigh USA Corp, and that he declared Ms. Kekona declined his help: “We’re heartbroken by this tragic and disturbing incident,”
“After landing in Portland, Ms. Kekona was assisted into her own motorized scooter by an airport consortium wheelchair service provider Huntleigh. Once in the concourse, she went off on her own.”