Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
Man dies on CAL trip from New York
A Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight had to be diverted to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands last Sunday, owing to a medical emergency which resulted in the death of an elderly passenger.
The man, who held dual citizenship, Jamaican and US, boarded the aircraft at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. He was a wheelchair passenger travelling with his personalised oxygen concentrator.
Approximately two hours into the flight, the crew realised he was not as alert as when he boarded.
"He was asked if he was fine and kept saying 'yes', but the crew was not convinced," said CAL's general manager, Clive Forbes.
No doctor on board
A public announcement was made asking for the assistance of a medical doctor or nurse on board the flight, however, there was none.
Forbes said the flight crew administered CPR on the passenger, prior to landing in Providenciales.
"We decided to take precautionary measures by diverting to a closer airport with the requisite medical facility to handle a medical emergency," he explained.
His counterpart, CAL's head of corporate communications, Clint Williams, also pointed out that the airline tries to facilitate travel for all passengers who are healthy enough to travel.
"In this particular instance there was clearance. This passenger was deemed well enough to travel," Williams stressed.
On arrival in Turks and Caicos, the plane was met by a medical doctor who pronounced the man dead.
Commending the Air Turks and Caicos team, members of the CAL in-flight team, and the understanding passengers who were delayed for more than six hours, Forbes said the airline could not begin to express how grateful it was.
He also singled out the air traffic controllers for commendation, stating they went way beyond the call of duty, remaining on the job long after their scheduled time to go home.