Emergency responders are facing criticism for how they removed a dying woman from an American Airlines flight.
Theresa Hines was found unresponsive with her pants undone in the rear bathroom of a Boeing 737, which was flying from Dallas to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. An airport rep told The Star Tribune that the woman died soon after she was discovered.
It was reported that the woman was in a state of undress as EMTs dragged her off the flight, and Theresa’s fer howllow passengers took issue with how she was handled.
One passenger named Art Endress claimed that she was half-naked, and he thinks responders should have done more to protect her dignity. “The EMT was out of line,” he said. “The flight attendants could have thrown a blanket on her.”
He also told reporters that he saw responders stand behind Theresa’s head and “dragged her down the aisle.”
Another flyer, David Sampsell, refuted allegations that Theresa was overly exposed, stating, “She was not half-naked. Her pants were unfastened, but I saw nothing that any of the airline or EMT staff did inappropriately.”
A rep for American Airlines also said she was wearing underwear and a shirt when she was removed from the aircraft. According to the rep, flight crew members assist passengers “in medical distress” before they “hand over the responsibility for the passenger to the local first responders [and] stand clear of the situation. We let them do their work.”
As Endress recalls, flight attendants noticed that Theresa was missing from her seat and that someone was still in the bathroom as the crew began to prepare for landing. When attendants knocked on the door, there was no response. Eventually the staff opened the door and they asked to see if there was a doctor or nurse onboard that could offer immediate assistance.
It was determined that Theresa had a medical episode while she was in the bathroom. Authorities estimated that she was in the bathroom for minutes before flight crew members found her. The pilot contacted the airport to inform staff that emergency medical assistance would be needed immediately upon landing.
“Our team and others did what they could do to preserve her modesty while working to save her life,” the American Airlines rep said.
Theresa was partially covered in a tarp-like stretcher as she was carried off the plane into the jetway. Passengers were kept on the airplane as EMTs tried to resuscitate her. Nearly an hour later, the remaining passengers were allowed to leave the plane. A tarp was put up around Theresa to protect her from their view.
Our condolences go out to the family during this difficult time.