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American Airline passenger dies aboard flight to John Wayne Airport

A man who went into full cardiac arrest died aboard a flight Tuesday morning from Dallas to John Wayne in Orange County, authorities said.

Crew members attempted to revive the passenger but he was pronounced dead at 11:45 a.m. when the American Airlines jet landed.

The county’s coroner’s office identified the passenger as John Selner, 78, of Fort Worth, Texas.

Airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge wrote in an email that crew members aboard the inbound American Airlines flight told officials at John Wayne that a passenger was in the midst of a medical emergency about 11:20 a.m.

When the plane landed, the passenger was rushed to a secure place in one of the airport’s three terminals until coroner’s officials arrived, Wedge wrote.

Flight crew members had administered CPR but stopped about 15 minutes before landing, according to Lt. Jeff Hallock, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

The incident did not affect any other airport operations, Wedge said.

Typically, in the case of an in-flight medical emergency, a flight’s pilot or crew will notify local air traffic controllers or an airport’s air traffic control tower if they’re close enough to their destination, according to Wedge.

Air traffic controllers then summon emergency personnel as airport operations staff members help coordinate gates or other logistics. That way, first responders can be ready to board the plane to provide any further medical aid that might be necessary.

While airport emergency teams respond to a variety of medical situations “almost daily,” Wedge explained, passengers can usually be treated on site or taken to a local hospital.

“Unfortunately,” she wrote, “that was not the case today.”


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