A Colorado woman says United Airlines and personnel at the Denver International Airport didn’t act quickly enough when her four-month-old son became overheated on a delayed flight and needed medical attention.
The Denver Post reports the woman claims the airline and airport crews were unprepared for a medical emergency and delayed her son in getting treatment from a waiting ambulance after he overheated and went limp in her arms.
The ordeal started Thursday afternoon when a flight from Denver to El Paso was delayed and passengers on the planned trip were stuck for about two hours inside an aircraft that was becoming increasingly hot amid the 90-degree-plus temperatures outside.
When the woman and her son boarded the flight for El Paso at 1:20 p.m., she recalled that the back of the plane where she was sitting was already hot.
Shortly after boarding, the flight crew announced that bad weather had changed the plane’s planned route and that the trip would be delayed to allow time for ground crew members to add fuel to the aircraft.
The woman says that when she noticed her son getting increasingly warm she put wet wipes on his neck and down his shirt, hoping it would cool him. When that didn’t work, the woman says flight attendants brought her ice in garbage bags to place on the boy.
“We just sat and sat and sat,” France said. “I hit my call button and said, ‘I think it’s getting dangerously hot back here.’”
At that point, the crew let the woman and her son off the plane to wait in a gate area. She reboarded about 20 minutes later, only to be delayed again.
The woman was able to hold the baby in front of the open door to get more air on him, while flight attendants brought more bags of ice to cool him.
Still, the woman says the four-month-old was struggling in the heat.
“His whole body flashed red and his eyes rolled back in his head and he was screaming,” France said. “And then he went limp in my arms. It was the worst moment of my life.”
At that point, the woman asked for an ambulance. However, because the plane had backed away from the gate, she says the flight crew and ground crew disagreed on whether or not stairs should be pushed over or the plane would return to the gate.
The mother tells the Denver Post that the disagreement lasted about 30 minutes before it was determined that the plane would return to the gate. At around 3:45 p.m. the woman says her son was loaded into the ambulance.
“They seemed completely unprepared for a medical emergency,” she said. The boy who was treated at a Children’s hospital Thursday, was recovering at home on Friday.
A rep for Denver International Airport confirmed to the Denver Post that a medical call as made at 2:59 p.m. Thursday related to an infant experiencing shortness of breath.
United also confirmed that a child on the flight experienced a medical issue.
“The pilot returned to the gate as our crew called for paramedics to meet the aircraft,” the airline said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the child and family, and we have been in contact to offer travel assistance.”