Response lag questioned in N.Y. jet death
Heart attack victim kept aboard over 20 minutes
By Sharon Linstedt
Buffalo News (New York)
Copyright 2007 The Buffalo News
All Rights Reserved
A former Buffalo resident returning here died Feb. 28 on a JetBlue Airways flight preparing for takeoff from New York, and his death is now raising questions about emergency response time.
Lawrence D. Parker Jr., 46, suffered a heart attack shortly after boarding the aircraft at John F. Kennedy International Airport. New York Port Authority medical aides and New York City Fire Department crews didn't arrive for nearly a half hour.
"It took them 23 minutes to get there. I just don't get that," said his father, Lawrence D. Parker Sr., of Buffalo. "We still don't understand the situation, but it doesn't seem right."
Parker, a Naples, Fla., resident who spent some of his time in Buffalo, had boarded JetBlue Flight 8, which was scheduled for a 3:10 p.m. departure for Buffalo. Before the aircraft had taxied away from the gate, Parker slumped over in his seat and fell unconscious.
He was pronounced dead just after 4 in Franklin General Hospital, Valley Stream.
A fellow passenger told a Long Island newspaper the lengthy response time was "appalling."
"He was suffering," said Caroline Sullivan, of East Patchogue. "I kept looking at my watch and wondering where EMS was."
A Port Authority spokesman did not return phone calls from The Buffalo News on Wednesday.
JetBlue spokesman Bryan Baldwin said the airline did everything it could to provide assistance.
"Our crew followed procedures in assisting the passenger with CPR and use of a defibrillator and calling the Port Authority for emergency medical response," said Baldwin, who confirmed an ambulance did respond but declined to comment on the response time.
He also said JetBlue made contact with Parker's family via its Care Team to let them know about the incident.
"We have a special team that reaches out to families when we have a customer who has experienced some kind of medical incident. That was done in this case," Baldwin added.
Lawrence Meckler, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority executive director, said he was not aware of the death until he was contacted Wednesday by The News.
"It wasn't an emergency that involved us, so I'm not sure there was a reason to notify us," Meckler said. "Certainly, if the emergency had occurred in the air, we would have been notified so we would have a rescue team standing by, but in this case that wasn't necessary."
Lawrence Parker Sr. said the family moved to the Buffalo area in the 1970s following his retirement from the Army, first living in Niagara Falls, then in Buffalo.
Parker Jr. attended high school in the Niagara-Wheatfield School District and graduated from Buffalo's Kensington High School.
The younger Parker left the area several years ago but recently began buying investment residential properties in South Buffalo and Lackawanna. Erie County clerk's office records indicate he purchased seven homes here since 2004, including a property in Lackawanna last month.