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LAX flight delayed by medical emergency, mechanical problem finally back to LAX

July 2, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Some United Airlines passengers on their way from Orlando to Los Angeles International Airport finally touched down Monday afternoon. It's a day after their flight was supposed to land here.

The pilot had to make an emergency landing in Midland, Texas and the passengers ended up having to spend the night in the airport.

A trip many of the travelers took to Walt Disney World did not have a knight in shining armor or a fairy tale ending.

The stranded passengers started on a United Airlines flight from Orlando bound for LAX.

Passenger Alice Martinez, an ICU nurse, responded when the crew asked for medical personnel on board.

"Little did I know what I was about to face was a man, a diabetic patient, a passenger completely unresponsive in the back of the plane," said Martinez, a Burbank resident.

"We had to lower him to the aisle, which was 10 inches maybe, this was a large man, about 250-plus," said Martinez.

A couple of ski patrol officers performed CPR, they say, for about 30 minutes.

"We were just hoping for the best, you just do what you're trained to do," said Doug Jones, one of the ski patrol officers.

"It was pretty scary, because we were not wearing any seatbelts or anything as we were landing, just on top of him, trying to do CPR, trying to start IVs trying to do as much as we could for him," said Alice Martinez.

The plane made an emergency landing in Midland, Texas, where the man was rushed to a hospital.

"The pilot said he was dead," said Manhattan Beach resident Courtney Lewis. "And then the next morning they said that he was still alive and just in intensive care at the hospital."

"We spent about four hours on the actual plane after we came down and then they came back and told us that there was some kind of mechanical failure so they took us off the plane, and we had to go and sleep in the airport," said Ontario resident Nick McCaie.

Passengers say they were told there were no available hotel rooms in the area, so there was no choice but to make do.

"There were some kids that were crying because they were laying on the floor," said Baldwin Hills resident Claudius Shropshire III. "They gave us the small airplane blankets, only to the kids."

Several hours into the wait, pizza arrived.

"We got a pajama party and we got a pizza party," said Diamond Bar resident Richard Guzman.

Eventually the plane finally took off for Los Angeles.

When passengers landed they were handed an apology letter.

United Airlines told Eyewitness News: "We sincerely apologize to our customers for the delay and are fully refunding their tickets, and are actively reaching out to them to offer additional gestures of goodwill."

"Stressed, tired, traumatized," said Renee Shropshire. "I feel like we've been treated very, very disrespectfully by the airline."

But Long Beach resident Greg Zucchero thinks one very long night was worth the wait.

"I'd stay there for a week to see some guy's life saved," said Zucchero.

There was no immediate update to the sick passenger's condition.


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