SAN FRANCISCO INT’L AIRPORT (KPIX 5) – A flight from Hawaii to New York was forced to make an emergency landing at San Francisco International Airport late Thursday night after a flight attendant suffered a medical emergency mid-flight and died.
Hawaiian Airlines officials said Flight 50 left Honolulu bound for JFK airport in New York around 4:20 p.m. Hawaii time (6:20 p.m. Pacific.)
About three hours into the flight, a flight attendant suffered a medical emergency. The pilot came over the loudspeaker and asked if there were any doctors on the flight, and there were several on board.
Crews and doctors performed CPR on the flight attendant. The flight arrived at SFO around 11 p.m. and the flight attendant was pronounced dead by the San Mateo County Coroner. He was identified as Emile Griffith a longtime employee with Hawaiian Airlines.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Emile Griffith, a member of our flight attendant ‘ohana for over 31 years who passed away while working on our flight between Honolulu and New York last night,” Hawaiian Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Ann Botticelli said in a statement. “We are forever grateful for Emile’s colleagues and good Samaritans on board who stayed by his side and provided extensive medical help. Emile both loved and treasured his job at Hawaiian and always shared that with our guests. Our hearts are with Emile’s family, friends and all those fortunate to have known him.”
Botticelli said Hawaiian Airlines has made counseling available for Griffith’s fellow employees.
According to an airport spokesperson, the flight attendant possibly suffered a heart attack.
After landing at SFO, passengers spent about two more hours on the jet before being allowed to deplane.
“It’s just confusing, trying to figure out what’s going on. I wasn’t sure what was happening, and not too many people were,” said Damien Stack, who was on Hawaiian Flight 50. “We knew it was a medical emergency, but we didn’t know specifically what it was, until after we landed.”
Passengers were asked to book their own flights to New York, which the airline is expected to reimburse. The plane left SFO shortly after 4 a.m., but it is unclear where the plane was headed.