Friday, 20 July, 2018

Daughter Sues Alaska Airlines For Mom's Fatal Fall Down Escalator

KXLY Bernice Kakona suffered head chest and leg wounds following a fall at Portland International Airport KXLY Bernice Kakona suffered head chest and leg wounds following a fall at Portland International Airport
Nellie Chapman | 31 December, 2017, 01:21

A family in the state of Washington has filed a suit against Alaskan Airlines as well as a contractor for the airline in response to a fall by their 75-year-old grandmother on an escalator at Portland International Airport.

In June, 75-year-old Bernice Kekona was attempting to catch a connecting flight at the Portland International Airport when she tumbled 21 steps down an escalator while seat-belted to her power wheelchair, the Daily Mail reports.

But the Kekona's family alleges the contractor, Huntleigh, which was hired by Alaska Airlines for performing the service but failed to perform its duties.

"We don't have all the facts, but after conducting a preliminary investigation, it appears that Ms. Kekona declined ongoing assistance in the terminal and made a decision to proceed on her own to her connecting flight", Alaska Airlines said in a statement to Business Insider.

In airport surveillance video obtained by KXLY, Kekona is shown at the top of an escalator, which she later said she thought was an elevator.

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.

Meanwhile, the airlines responded to the case, saying they "are heartbroken by this tragic and disturbing incident" and claimed that Kekona had denied the assistance offered by them at Portland airport, ABC-affiliate KXLY reported. However, according to the lawsuit, Huntleigh says they were never notified that Bernice required gate-to-gate assistance.

The lawsuit indicates that Kekona appeared to confuse an escalator for an elevator. She had taken the same trip many times before. Video also shows Bernice stopping at a security checkpoint to look for her gate. She fell down head-first while several people tried to help her. By the time she realized her misjudgment, her wheelchair was on the escalator and she was tumbling almost 21 steps down the moving escalator.

Kekona was coming home from a family vacation in Maui.

ABC News was informed by Alaska Airlines that it is indeed a right of the traveler to decline assistance if it is unwanted. "We just miss her because she's a part of our everyday life", said Darlene. There was no indication in the reservation that Ms. Kekona had cognitive, visual, or auditory impairments. The family said Bernice was in constant pain and that she couldn't sleep or eat. She died two weeks later.

Despite eventually being sat upright, Kekona's family says she suffered trauma to her head and chest, a cut to her Achilles tendon and gashes on the side of her face. After landing in Portland, Ms. Kekona was assisted into her own motorized scooter by an airport consortium wheelchair service provider Huntleigh. Kekona also went through a surgery just before her death incident took place. Although it's not citing any specific huge monetary damages, the lawsuit states that the medical bill of Kekona was nearly around $300,000.