A flight attendant died of an apparent heart attack during a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Honolulu to New York Thursday. The flight was diverted to San Francisco’s airport.
Hawaiian Airlines confirmed the death Friday, saying it was “deeply saddened” over the loss of veteran crew member Emile Griffith in a statement to USA TODAY.
“We are forever grateful for Emile’s colleagues and good Samaritans on board who stayed by his side and provided extensive medical help,” the statement said. “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.”
Hawaiian Airlines Flight 50 landed in San Francisco Thursday night after a crew member had “a suspected heart attack,” airport spokesman Doug Yakel told the AP.
Medical personnel attempted CPR during the flight but suspended those efforts prior to landing. The San Mateo County coroner declared the crew member dead on arrival, Yakel said.
Hawaiian Airlines has made counseling available for Griffith’s fellow employees. The airline said all passengers were re-accommodated on the first available flights and will be provided compensation.
Andrea Bartz, who was on the flight to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, said on Twitter that the crew made an announcement asking for a doctor to go to first class to help with a medical emergency.
Bartz tweeted that “so many doctors came forward” and that police officers came on board after the plane landed.
Bartz declined to be interviewed. But she and another passenger complained on Twitter that the airline played ukulele music during the emergency.
“Hawaiian Airlines is still playing the ukulele/traditional singing soundtrack meant for boarding and deplaning, and I’ll tell ya, it’s not making anyone calmer,” she tweeted.
Contributing: Dawn Gilbertson and The Associated Press