Airport worker dies after being ‘ingested’ by plane engine in Texas

File - A Delta Air Lines Airbus A319 sits on the tarmac at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta on Friday, Dec. 17, 2010. Erik S. Lesser/Bloomberg via Getty Images

UPDATE: The airport ground worker who was sucked into a plane engine at San Antonio International Airport Friday died by suicide, according to the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office. The official cause of death was blunt and sharp force injuries.

ORIGINAL: An airport employee has died after they were sucked into the engine of a passenger plane at the San Antonio International Airport Friday evening, according to the U.S.’ National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Delta Air Lines Flight 1111 had just arrived in San Antonio from Los Angeles and was taxiing to its gate with one engine on when the fatal incident occurred.

The NTSB stated that “a worker was ingested into that engine at about 10:25 p.m.” The plane involved was an Airbus A319.

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The worker has not yet been identified by name, though the Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that they were an airport ramp worker employed by Unifi Aviation, a company that Delta Air Lines contracts for ground crew operations.

The safety board is investigating the circumstances of the tragic accident and is “in the information gathering process at this point.”

It’s not clear how the incident happened or if it was related to safety protocols.

The San Antonio International Airport also confirmed the death of the ground crew member Friday night and is co-operating with the NTSB’s investigation.

“We are deeply saddened by this incident and are working with authorities as they begin their investigation. We will share more information as details become available,” spokesperson Erin Rodriguez stated.

Delta Air Lines is also working with investigators as it mourns the loss of one of its employees.

“We are heartbroken and grieving the loss of an aviation family member’s life in San Antonio. Our hearts and full support are with their family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time,” a Delta spokesperson said.

The accident comes only six months after a similar tragedy occurred in Montgomery, Ala., when a 34-year-old ground crew worker was “ingested” into a plane engine.

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In that case, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that “proper training and enforcement of safety procedures could have prevented this tragedy.”

Regional airline Piedmont was fined US$15,625 for the worker’s death.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help. 

For a directory of support services in your area, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention

Learn more about how to help someone in crisis. 

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