Family Claims Flight Crew Did Not Help Dying Passenger

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Carol Wilson (left), Family Photo

A 70-year-old Houston grandmother suffered a heart attack on an Emirates airlines flight and later died, and now her family is suing the Dubai-based carrier saying the plane's crew did nothing to help her.

Carol Wilson had just celebrated her birthday on a dream trip to see friends in the Philippines and was flying from Dubai home to Houston in April when she became ill, her family says.

"Emirates airlines really let my mother die on that flight," Wilson's daughter, Tamala White, tells AOL Travel News. "It was horrible."

Wilson was traveling home with her son, Shawn Carriker, who had flown to the Philippines from Afghanistan where he worked as a government contractor, to help his mom celebrate her birthday. White says shortly before the plane landed Wilson told her son she had to use the restroom.

When Wilson did not return to her seat after an announcement was made to prepare for landing, a flight attendant called over Carriker, White says.

"Shawn knocked on the door and no one responded. When they opened the door they found my mother slumped over and unconscious with her eyes rolled to the back of her head. Her pants were pulled down. My brother had to dress my mother. She was gasping for air," White says.

Yet White, who works as a human resources supervisor for a medical billing company in Houston, says "the flight attendant didn't want to help Shawn."

Her brother tried to move Wilson out of the bathroom on his own, but she was "dead weight, too heavy," White says.

A male flight attendant eventually, on Carriker's request, helped move Wilson to the floor in the middle of the aisle, "But they did nothing. They gave her no CPR. The captain did not say there was a medical emergency," White says. She adds a flight attendant did hand her brother an oxygen mask, but she says he had to put it on Wilson himself.

The flight attendants then decided to move Wilson to a jump seat.

"They strapped her in there. She is still unconscious and slumped over, arms, everything. And then the flight attendant strapped in for landing," White says.

While Emirates says on its website it has defibrillators on its planes, none was ever brought out, White says.

"No type of means of life support was used to assist my mother. They just let her die. By the time we landed – and they let the people off the plane first and then they let paramedics on the plane – it was too late."

Meanwhile, White was waiting in the terminal to meet the flight and says she started getting frantic calls from her brother.

"He was on the cell saying 'Tammi, Tammi she's not breathing. What should I do?'"


Carol Wilson (right) with friends in the Philippines. Family Photo.

White tried to get Emirates personnel to give her further information on what was going on.

"They sent a ticket agent out to answer my questions, but they just gave me an 800 number to find out what was going on," White says, admitting that she was getting hysterical at this point.

She found police officers who were eventually able to get information. Her mother, who White says had no previous health problems, was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

White says the family never heard from the carrier. "No remorse, no phone calls, no nothing," she says.

Attorney Kerry Guidry has filed suit on behalf of the family at U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. A court date has been set for Sept. 19.

"There's policies and procedures in place when a medical emergency arises and Emirates failed to follow those policies and procedures and that contributed to Carol's death," Guidry tells AOL Travel News. "She suffered cardiac arrest. The first seven to 10 minutes are critical in cardiac arrest, and they (Emirates) did nothing, and that's what we believe led to her death."

He says there's a lesson here for all air passengers.

"We put our lives in (the crew's) hands when we're in planes and they're supposed to be professional and know what to do," Guidry says. "This (case) should be a concern for anyone who flies."

Emirates airlines declined to comment.

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