A woman who collapsed and died in the rear bathroom on an American Airlines flight was dragged naked from the waist down past other passengers by a medic, witnesses say.
Theresa Hines, 48, of Carrollton, Texas, collapsed in the bathroom while flying from Dallas to Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport on Monday afternoon.
Her body was removed from the plane after it landed, but passengers said the EMT left her lower half exposed as he dragged her, face up, down the aisle of the Boeing 737, the StarTribune reported.
Hines was exposed to the 150 other passengers as she was pulled down the length of the plane on a portable stretcher, witnesses said.
‘The EMT was out of line on that one,’ said witness Art Endress, 63. ‘Also, the flight attendants could have thrown a blanket on her.’
Endress and other passengers first became aware something was wrong when staff performing a headcount noticed that one of the passengers was not seated.
After not receiving responses from the bathroom, the staff members opened the door to find Hines and called for help, to which a nurse and a doctor responded.
As soon as the plane landed, EMTs boarded and she was transported down the aircraft.
Endress said that a passenger sitting near him said she had tried and failed to get into that bathroom about halfway through the two-hour-45-minute flight.
Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for American, said that staff will ‘of course’ check a bathroom that has been occupied an unusually long time – if they are made aware of it.
Minneapolis-St Paul airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said that Hines was ‘not naked’ when she was removed.
He added that the first responders ‘were focused on trying to save her life and get her in the jetway, where they can continue to try to resuscitate her’.
Endress said that the remaining passengers stayed on the plane for about an hour while resuscitation attempts continued; a tarp was then placed up in the jetway to hide the woman as passengers disembarked.
Feinstein said that once a plane has landed, staff ‘hand over the responsibility for the passenger to the local first responders [and] stand clear of the situation. We let them do their work’.