Woman dies after being thrown from wheelchair on Southwest Airlines walkway
Nearly a year after a fall at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport that forced her to use a ventilator, Gaby Assoulin passed away last week. She was 25 years old.
Ms Assoulin’s family blame Southwest Airlines for the crash they believe caused her death and are suing the airline for damages.
According to their lawsuit, Ms. Assoulin was riding a jumper to board a Southwest flight when her electric wheelchair crashed into an intersection, causing her to be thrown out of her seat. As a result of the fall, Ms. Assulin was paralyzed and needed a ventilator.
According to the lawsuit, Southwest and its contractor G2 Secure Staff could have prevented Ms. Assoulin’s accident if they provided her with the necessary assistance in a wheelchair or instructed her or warned her or employees of potential problems when moving on the walkway.
Southwest Airlines issued a statement following the news of Ms. Assoulin’s death on Tuesday.
“Southwest extends its sincere condolences to the family, friends and friends of Miss Assoulin and to all whose lives she has touched,” the statement said. “We have over 51 years of commitment to caring for our people and customers, and we continue to maintain relationships with the parties involved.”
Ms. Assulin was believed to have been on a flight to Denver to visit her sister and was not accompanied by her parent. Her mother, Sandra Assoulin, was given permission to escort her through the airport security checkpoint and drop her off at the gate.
The WPLG reported that Ms Assoulin was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva when she was 12, which made it difficult for her to walk long distances, so she had to use a wheelchair at the airport.
After the accident, Ms. Assoulin’s family set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for her medical bills. As of Tuesday, this page has received over $137,000 in donations. On January 24, Sandra Assoulin posted an announcement that Ms. Assoulin had died.
“Gaby’s life was tragically cut short 11 months ago, but she has endured the greatest struggle with grace, friends, laughter and the firm belief that she will leave the hospital and return home very soon,” the update reads. “Unfortunately, complications deprived Gaby of this ending. Heaven has just received the most beautiful, sweetest, innocent and precious soul!”