Mid-flight chaos as man dies from COVID
A United Airlines passenger has recounted the dramatic moment he jumped out of his seat on a packed plane to help a dying man who had COVID-19 symptoms - and insists he would do it all over again.
Tony Aldapa, who is a paramedic, says he has since come down with symptoms of the virus himself after rushing to help the passenger who died hours after collapsing aboard the plane carrying nearly 200 people.
"I knew the risks involved in performing CPR on someone that potentially has COVID, but I made the choice to do so anyways," Mr Aldapa wrote on Twitter.
"Knowing I had the knowledge, training and experience to help out, I could not have sat idly by and watched someone die."
New Video of United Airlines Passenger Who Died Receiving CPR Mid-Flight, COVID Scare https://t.co/cUkHQks5vZ— TMZ (@TMZ) December 20, 2020
Mr Aldapa said he and two others performed CPR on the sick man for close to an hour on the flight last week from Orlando to Los Angeles.
He and the other passengers were "essentially tag-teaming," performing chest compressions on the man who had begun shaking before losing consciousness on the flight, CBS LA reported.
Instead of anyone doing mouth-to-mouth, a compressible oxygen bag attached to a mask was used to breathe for the dying man, TMZ reported.
Meanwhile, footage from inside the packed flight shows passengers panicking as the drama unfolded.
Mr Aldapa said he spoke with the passenger's wife, who admitted that her husband was scheduled to get a COVID-19 test done in Los Angeles after losing his taste and smell - though the man reportedly told the airline before boarding that he had no virus-related symptoms.
"I spent the remainder of the flight covered in my own sweat and in that man's urine," Mr Aldapa wrote.
By now most of you know I was on the @united flight that has been in the news. I made the decision to attempt to save the passengers life and along with 2 others performed CPR for close to an hour until we landed. And continued to help the firefighters when they came onboard.— Face (@Face_withaQ) December 19, 2020
After an emergency landing in New Orleans, the sick passenger was brought to the hospital, where he died a short time later.
Mr Aldapa has since become sick himself with virus-related symptoms.
"Essentially I just feel like I got hit by a train," he told CBS LA. "I had a cough, my whole body still hurt, I had a headache."
United Airlines said it was initially only informed that the man had suffered a cardiac arrest - and was waiting on more information about his possible COVID-19 case.
"We are sharing requested information with the (CDC) so they can work with local health officials to conduct outreach to any customer the CDC believes may be at risk for possible exposure or infection," the airline said.
A version of this article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission
Originally published as Mid-flight chaos as man dies from COVID