Atlanta-bound flight diverted after teen's death

Updated:

SPOKANE, Wash. - A Delta Air Lines flight from Seattle to Atlanta has been diverted to Spokane International Airport after a 16-year-old boy died on board.

Airport spokesman Todd Woodard says the teen suffered some kind of medical emergency on Flight 128 Saturday around 9 a.m. Pacific time and passed away, reportedly of natural causes.

The name of the teen, who authorities said is originally from the metro Atlanta area, has not been released. An autopsy is pending, Spokane Fire Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The teen was traveling to metro Atlanta with an unspecified number of family members to celebrate Christmas with relatives in Georgia, Schaeffer said. The boy’s father is in the military and is stationed in Washington, Schaeffer said.

Joe Ryan, a passenger aboard the plane, said in a telephone interview from the Spokane airport, that the pilot of the plane informed passengers almost immediately after takeoff that there was a medical emergency aboard the aircraft.

“The plane never really got too high,” said Ryan. “The pilot all the sudden got on the intercom and said there was a passenger in dire need (of medical attention).”

Ryan said the teen and what he believed to be the teen’s family members were seated somewhere in the plane behind him. The teen was taken to the rear of the jet where flight attendants and possibly others attempted lifesaving measures, Ryan said.

Five or six emergency vehicles met the plane at the gate, and Ryan said emergency technicians “were on the plane in seconds.”

He commended the flight attendants and pilots for their quick work, calling them “unbelievable.”

Ryan said he overheard crew and others on the plane say the teen had a preexisting medical condition, possibly cerebral palsy.

“I just feel so bad for the family,” Ryan said.

Delta spokesman Michael Thomas says there were 258 passengers on the Boeing 767. They exited the aircraft at Spokane, and some were being rebooked onto other flights to get to their destinations. Delta was flying in another crew Saturday afternoon to fly the remaining passengers to Atlanta.