POLICE have issued a statement after an 82-year-old disabled passenger fell to his death on an escalator at Gatwick Airport.
The death is not being treated as suspicious and his next of kin have been informed of the tragic incident.
A statement issued by Sussex Police said: "Emergency services were called to reports of a person having suffered a fall and injury at Gatwick North Terminal at approximately 12.50pm on Wednesday (June 15). Despite the efforts of the ambulance service and wider first responders, an 82-year-old man sadly died at the scene.
"His next of kin have been informed. The death is not being treated as suspicious. A report will be prepared for the coroner."
A source said the passenger and his wife both required special assistance after their easyJet flight landed at the airport.
They explained: “A member of staff came to take the woman into the airport but the man was left on the plane.
“He must not have wanted to wait for the staff member to come back so made his own way into the terminal.
“While on the escalator the passenger fell down and suffered serious injuries as a result and died.
“This is a tragic incident which should never have happened. Someone should have been helping him.
“There’s been a real issue with staffing problems and some disabled people have had to wait for hours for help.
“Normal airport staff have had to be reminded not to help disabled passengers if they’re not qualified to, even if it means passengers waiting for hours.”
Gatwick’s North Terminal has witnessed chaotic scenes and huge queues for weeks as staff shortages have meant flights have been cancelled or severely delayed. Across the country, hundreds of flights have been cancelled in the past two weeks.
The tragedy happened at around 12.50pm on Wednesday — and comes after a quadriplegic woman was recently left on a Gatwick plane for 90 minutes.
Victoria Brignell said her wheelchair turned up at the right time but staff who were supposed to help her off were “busy elsewhere”.
At Heathrow, disabled journalist Frank Gardner was recently left waiting on a plane after he was told there were “no staff” to help him off. The wheelchair user said he was forced to wait “long after everyone else was off”.
Travel expert Paul Charles, from The PC Agency, said of the Gatwick death: “Questions will be asked about the lack of staff available to assist in the middle of the day when this flight arrived.
“It shows the increasing frustration of some passengers who can’t wait on aircraft for long periods hoping help may eventually arrive.”
Gatwick Airport is responsible for providing special assistance services for passengers.
Gatwick outsources its assistance services to provider Wilson James.
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Disabled easyJet passenger falls to his death at Gatwick Airport
The airport said the man was one of three disabled passengers due to be disembarked, and a member of staff was in the process of helping each of them off.
Gatwick added: “Staff shortages were not a factor in this incident, as has been claimed. It is normal for one staff member to disembark three passengers who require assistance. An investigation is under way. Our thoughts are with the passenger’s family.”
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