News Worms
News Worms

Family sues airline after former Maui woman in wheelchair falls at airport

Family sues airline after former Maui woman in wheelchair falls at airport

A Washington state family is suing Alaska Airlines and a contractor for allegedly neglecting to properly care for a disabled 75-year-old grandmother who suffered a fall down a Portland International Airport escalator in June and later died.

Bernice Kekona landed in Portland from Hawaii in June and the contractors at the airport helped her with a wheelchair, which had seat belt, as stated in the lawsuit and also mentioned by officials of the airline, ABC News reported.

Now, Kekona's family is suing Alaska Airlines and Huntleigh USA for failing to provide agreed upon gate-to-gate transportation, resulting in the 75-year-old's fall and subsequent death.

Alaska Airlines claimed that "it appears that Ms Kekona declined ongoing assistance in the terminal and made a decision to proceed on her own to her connecting flight", and noted that reservation did not note any "cognitive, visual or auditory impairments".

In September, the wound to her tendon became so infected that doctors were forced to amputate her leg below the knee, according to a lawsuit filed by the family. "Those two people interpreted that as excusing them from the gate-to-gate service that Alaska knew that Bernice needed, and Huntleigh knew that Bernice needed". In the clip, she can be seen moving through the airport to find her gate without any assistance.

Kekona thought she was getting on the elevator, but realized her mistake. She stopped at a security checkpoint and an airport store looking for her departure gate, the lawsuit claims.

"One way or another, the service was not provided and Alaska (Airlines) did not have any mechanisms in place to protect against such a tragedy or an accident that could happen if the service wasn't provided", said Brook Cunningham, the lawyer representing the Kekona family in this case. The video also shows other witnesses rush to the scene to try to assist Kekona, who is pinned face down beneath the wheelchair as it reaches the bottom.

We're heartbroken by this tragic and disturbing incident. Her scooter weighed several hundred pounds, the suit says.

Down approximately 21 escalator steps before she came to rest with the wheelchair still on top of her.

Darlene Bloyed said a gash on her mother's leg turned septic and led to an amputation, from which she never recovered. She died the next day. After landing in Portland, Ms. Kekona was assisted into her own motorized scooter by an airport consortium wheelchair service provider who then escorted her from the aircraft into the concourse. There was no indication in the reservation that Ms. Kekona had cognitive, visual, or auditory impairments. It's not going to bring her back, but someone needs to own up. The family's wrongful death complaint does not specify any monetary damages, but it says Kekona's medical bills from the fall totaled almost $300,000.

Kekona's granddaughter Kekahuna said, referring to the contractor company and airlines being held accountable, "I want them to make it right".


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