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Woman Says Southwest Left Her Husband To Die On Plane

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A woman is filing a wrongful death suit against Southwest claiming that the crew treated her dying husband like a security threat instead of offering him immediate medical treatment that could have saved his life.Richard Ilczyszyn, a 46-year-old who ran a brokerage firm in Orange County, was flying home from Oakland last September when he suffered a pulmonary embolism that was ultimately fatal, according to CBS. He ran to the back of the plane just 10 minutes before landing.

As the flight was preparing to touch down, flight attendants heard sounds coming from the rear restroom. One crew member cracked the door open to see Ilczyszyn slumped over with his head down, groaning and crying. His foot was wedged against the door. Kelly said, "One flight attendant said she opened the door and she saw the top of my husband's head and his head was down and he was just whimpering, and [she] left him there."

Southwest says it was difficult to figure out what was going on because they couldn't open the bathroom door. The airline claims that they did act appropriately and told CBS, "Crews treated the situation as a medical emergency... immediately arranging for first responders to meet the flight."

Southwest called the Orange County Sheriff's department about someone screaming in the bathroom, however, they didn't ask for medical help right away. Officers waiting for the plane on the ground forced everyone to deplane before they even opened the bathroom door to find Ilczyszyn slumped over, a process that took 30 minutes. It was only then that paramedics were called. By the time paramedics did respond, it was too late for him. Doctors said Ilczyszyn's brain had been deprived of oxygen for about 33 minutes while on the plane, according to the Associated Press.

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Kelly believes her husband would still be alive today if Southwest had responded quickly and appropriately—something she knows from her experience as an attendant: "I know if a passenger is in distress... we need to help them. We need to figure out, is he okay, does he need medical attention, what's going on. And so I was very confused why they didn't help my husband."

Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO told CBS that crew members are trained to see any disruption as a threat to security: "We have been trained that any disruption in the cabin can be a diversion for another more serious security incident... and it's possible that they could not determine that that was not a serious security risk to the flight."

The suit asks for unspecified damages for Kelly and her family. Kelly says the worst part of the ordeal was having to explain to her kids what happened: "I just said, daddy's not coming home. Daddy went to heaven."