A Delta Airlines flight from Seattle to Atlanta was rerouted to Spokane International Airport in Washington state shortly after takeoff on Saturday due to a medical emergency that left a 16-year-old male passenger dead, officials said.
Spokane International officials stated that the teenager "regretfully died" shortly after Delta Flight 128 took off, bound for Atlanta. Pilots diverted to Spokane, the closest airport, upon learning of the emergency.
The cause of death was not immediately known. Local authorities and a medical examiner were summoned to the airport, NBC affiliate KHQ reported.
The teenager was not immediately identified, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Spokane Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer as saying that he was originally from the Atlanta metro area and was accompanying an unspecified number of family members to visit relatives in Georgia for Christmas. His father is in the military and is stationed in Washington, Schaeffer told the newspaper.
The newspaper quoted Joe Ryan, a passenger aboard the plane, as saying that the medical emergency occurred shortly after takeoff.
“The plane never really got too high,” he said. “The pilot all of the sudden got on the intercom and said there was a passenger in dire need (of medical attention).”
Ryan said the teen and what he believed to be the teen’s family members were seated somewhere in the plane behind him. The teen was taken to the rear of the jet where flight attendants and possibly others attempted lifesaving measures, Ryan said.
The remaining 258 passengers were removed from the plane and have boarded others, continuing to their destination, officials said.
Delta representatives did not release the name of the teenager and did not say if attempts to revive the boy continued after the plane landed.