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Hawaiian Family Sues Alaska Airlines After Their Grandmother Dies from Escalator Fall. [VIDEO]


The family of 75 year-old Bernice Kekona are seeing answers and financial accountability from Alaska Airlines after her death. The grandmother, who was in a mobilized wheelchair, was traveling alone in June of 2017 when she fell 21 stairs down the escalator at the airport. The family says that they had secured a "contractor", or guide, who was supposed to accompany Kekona from her gate to her connecting flight at the Portland airport. The airport claims that Kekona declined the extra help and, seeing as she was not listed as cognitively or physically impaired, allowed her to go to her connecting flight alone. It was on her route to the connecting flight that Kekona, still in her wheelchair, fell down the escalator.

In the video, Kekona can be seen facing forward as she begins to roll, then tumble, down the escalator. The wheelchair tips forward, crushing Kekona underneath it, as it continues to travel down the escalator. Bystanders spring into action to help Kekona but not before she sustains a number of injuries, one of them severe.

Kekona, who was seat-belted into the mobilized wheelchair, landed face down at the end of the escalator. Once she was upended and taken to the hospital, doctors noted that she had suffered multiple injuries to her face, chest and legs and severed her Achilles tendon. It was the injury to her tendon that would eventually lead to her death in September, just three short months after her horrible accident.

According to reports:

"The family's lawyer says Kekona suffered constant, serious pain in the months following the incident. 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. Her blood pressure never recovered following the surgery and Kekona died the next day. Her family is now suing Alaska Airlines and Huntleigh, USA for failing to provide what they say was agreed upon gate-to-gate transportation.

"The family is seeking reparation for damages, expenses and any 'further relief as the court may deem just and proper' resulting from Kekona's fatal fall, according to court documents.

"Between her injury and her death, Bernice incurred almost $300,000 in medical bills to treat her injuries from the fall,' attorneys Brook Cunningham and Troy Nelson wrote. According to the lawsuit, Kekona showed her ticket to an Alaska Airlines employee at her arrival gate, who pointed her in the direction she needed to go in. Minutes later Kekona was seen on video moving through the airport, confused and lost."

"She stopped at a security checkpoint and an airport store looking for her departure gate, the lawsuit claims. Huntleigh, USA, who is contracted by Alaska Airlines for disability services through the airport, told KXLY it can't comment yet because it has not seen the lawsuit filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court."

"Alaska Airlines also told ABC News that Kekona had the right to decline wheelchair services.The company added that it was 'heartbroken by this tragic and disturbing incident'."

Reports also say that Kekona, before her death, admitted that she thought the escalator was an elevator. Whatever the outcome of the case, a family now is missing their beloved grandmother. Let's hope that this case will set a precedent for other airlines to implement safer travels for the elderly and the disabled.

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