Passenger dies in bathroom of crowded plane, getting dragged half-naked down the aisle is in dispute


Eyewitness accounts are conflicted over what happened to a woman who allegedly collapsed and died in a bathroom on an American Airlines flight.

Emergency responders were called to the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport to help an unresponsive woman on Monday, the Star Tribune reported.

Theresa Hines, 48, of Carrollton, Texas, had reportedly collapsed in the rear bathroom of the plane flying out of Dallas and, according to some witnesses, was removed down the aisle of the aircraft with her lower half exposed.

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While American Airlines officials contend that Hines was wearing underwear and a shirt when removed from the plane on a portable stretcher, passenger Art Endress disagreed.

“That’s baloney,” he said.

“The EMT was out of line,” the 63 year-old passenger added. “The flight attendants could have thrown a blanket on her.”

But fellow passenger Dave Sampsell countered with a different account in an email, according to the Star Tribune.

“She was not half-naked,” he said. “Her pants were unfastened, but I saw nothing that any of the airline or EMT staff did inappropriately.”

Passengers were aware that something was wrong when airline staff noticed a missing passenger as they performed a routine head count. Hines had apparently walked to the bathroom about halfway into the flight of 2 hours and 45 minutes, a passenger sitting near her had told Endress.

“If a flight attendant is made aware of a passenger in the lavatory for an extended period of time, of course a flight attendant will check on the passenger to make sure they are all right,” American spokesman Ross Feinstein said, noting that flight attendants wouldn’t necessarily notice if a passenger was in a bathroom for an extended time.

When airline staff received no response to knocks and calls at the bathroom door, it was opened to find Hines collapsed on the other side, according to the Star Tribune.

A “team of flight attendants, a doctor, three nurses and other folks tended to our passenger before the flight landed,” American officials said.

Hines was taken past the 150 passengers on a tarp-like stretcher that partly covered her, removed to an area where emergency workers spent about an hour trying to revive her.

Airline 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,” Feinstein said of passengers who are in distress in flight.

Minneapolis-St. Paul airport spokesman Patrick Hogan confirmed that Hines died shortly after she was found in the bathroom.

While passengers disagreed over whether the woman was naked from the waist down as she was removed from the plane, American Airlines defended their actions.

“Our team and others did what they could do to preserve her modesty while working to save her life,” officials said.

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“We are deeply saddened by this event and our thoughts and prayers go out to our passenger’s loved ones,” the airline said in a statement.

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