A United Airlines flight from Orlando to Los Angeles made an emergency landing on Monday, leaving other passengers panicking as the ordeal unfolded before them.
Staff were initially told that a man had suffered a cardiac arrest at the time of the diversion, a spokesperson for the airline said to CNN.
Paramedics who were allowed to onboard the aircraft attempted to revive the man while his wife revealed that he had been showing coronavirus symptoms for the past week.
According to reports, the male passenger was seen sweating and shaking and experiencing breathing difficulties before the flight took off.
His condition deteriorated so quickly that the captain decided to perform an emergency landing in New Orleans.
The crew asked if there were doctors on board after the passenger in seat 28D stopped breathing, and many people volunteered to help.
During the CPR, the man’s bones could be heard cracking as chest compressions were done.
One of the passengers, Tony Aldapa, said: “I got up out of my seat, let them know ‘Hey I know CPR’ and asked ‘Do you need some extra help?’ I can tap in and help with chest compressions. That’s how it all started.
“By the point that I got there to the point where the fire department got on board, it was at least 45 minutes.”
He added: “There was no mouth-to-mouth at all. We were doing chest compressions and they had him on the oxygen mask from the plane, then once we had a medical bag that is kept on board we used an ambu-bag which is a bag that you squeeze to give breaths, that’s what we used for breathing.”
Medics transported the passenger to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead, the United Airlines said in a statement.
Because doctors initially ruled the emergency as cardiac arrest, the flight continued on the same aircraft.
The airline is now working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to contact those who were on board United Airlines Flight 591 after the passenger’s death.
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