Family alleges Alaska Airlines at fault for woman’s death after - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Family alleges Alaska Airlines at fault for woman’s death after fall at PDX

Surveillance image of Spokane woman's fall at Portland International Airport (KPTV) Surveillance image of Spokane woman's fall at Portland International Airport (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The family of a Spokane woman is suing Alaska Airlines and a contractor after a 75-year-old woman fell down an escalator in a wheelchair at Portland International Airport and later died.

Surveillance video from the airport shows people rushing to help Bernice Kekona as she falls on the escalator on June 7.

Her daughter said Kekona suffered for more than three months until her death on Sept.  20.

Darlene Bloyed said a gash on her mother’s leg turned septic and led to an amputation, from which she never recovered.

“We didn't really celebrate her 75th birthday because when this accident happened she was never the same,” Bloyed said.  

Kekona was flying home to Spokane after visiting family in Hawaii. She had taken the same trip many times before.

Her family said they always paid for an escort from gate to gate, because Kekona was vulnerable and easily confused.

The family said that service was not provided the day of her fall at PDX.

In a statement to FOX 12, Alaska Airlines said a wheelchair service provider, Huntleigh, placed Kekona in a motorized scooter when she landed in Portland.

“We're heartbroken by this tragic and disturbing incident. 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 decided to proceed on her own to her connecting flight. After landing in Portland, Ms. Kekona was assisted into her own motorized scooter by an airport consortium wheelchair service provider Huntleigh. Once in the concourse, she went off on her own,” according to the statement from Alaska Airlines.

The family’s attorney disagrees with Alaska’s assessment of the situation.

"Bernice did not decline that service,” said attorney Troy Nelson. “When they put her in her wheelchair they asked her how she was and she said she was fine. Those two people interpreted that as excusing them from the gate-to-gate service that Alaska knew that Bernice needed, and Huntleigh knew that Bernice needed."

Nelson did not disclose how much money the family is seeking, only saying it is “seven figures.”

The trial is expected to start in December 2018.

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