SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City International Airport is investigating after passengers on a United Airlines flight into Salt Lake City performed CPR on a passenger for nearly half an hour Sunday before the passenger was pronounced dead.
Airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann confirmed Monday the death of a passenger on United Flight 5596 out of Denver. Jared Noall, a passenger on the flight and a combat medic with the Army Reserve, assisted with performing CPR on the man until paramedics arrived.
Noall, an Ogden resident, said 15–20 minutes before the plane landed in Salt Lake City, he noticed a passenger snoring loudly two rows back. He said the man moved a bit and stopped snoring, but "we just thought he had found the sweet spot where he was comfortable and could sleep."
It wasn't until the plane landed and the lights went on that passengers could tell something was wrong, Noall said. He said he turned around the look at the man, and immediately thought the man was dead.
"You could tell something was wrong. I asked, ‘Hey, sir, are you awake?' " Noall said. "I shook him a bit, trying to see if I could get a response out of him. We checked his throat for a pulse, and it wasn't there, so we laid him down in the aisle and start CPR."
A defibrillator was retrieved and Noall and two others, a man and a woman, traded off performing CPR on the man until paramedics arrived, when he helped move the man off the plane. He said after half an hour, the man was pronounced dead.
"It sort of sucks because you always want to save people's lives, but what can you do?" Noall said. "Everyone came together to try to help, though. We did what we could."
Fellow passenger Kevin MacIsaac, who was traveling to Salt Lake City for a meeting with the United Potato Growers of America, echoed Noall's statement.
"They tried their very best; the family of the deceased man would be glad to know he did everything possible to revive him." he said. "It was sad to see the flight attendant remove his bag from the overhead rack — what shocking news for his family."
Noall said when he returned to the plane afterward, "the lady sitting next to him was completely distraught."
"I sat down and let her know it's OK, it's part of life and there's really nothing she could have done," he said.
The identity of the man, who appeared to be in his thirties, according to Noall, has not been released. United Airlines confirmed the passenger's death, but could not comment further due to privacy concerns.