A Hawaiian Airlines flight made an unscheduled stop in San Francisco after a flight attendant died onboard. It’s another sobering reminder that all of us will face death, sometimes when we least expect it.
Flight 50 was traveling from Honolulu (HNL) to New York (JFK). About three hours into the flight, FA Emile Griffith suffered a heart attack. Despite attempts by many doctors on board to provide him CPR and other resuscitative measures, a suspected heart attack killed him. Coroners met the aircraft in SFO and pronounced him dead.
Hawaiian Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Ann Botticelli issued a statement on the event, stating:
We are deeply saddened by the loss of Emile Griffith, a member of our flight attendant ‘ohana for over 31 years who passed away while working on our flight between Honolulu and New York last night. We are forever grateful for Emile’s colleagues and good Samaritans on board who stayed by his side and provided extensive medical help. 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.
The flight featured 253 passengers and 12 crew members. Rather than eventually continuing to New York, passengers were either rebooked on other airlines by Hawaiian or told to purchase tickets and request reimbursement. Hawaiian also plans to compensate passengers for the delay, even though it was for a tragic matter beyond its control.
Death is part of human life and I do not need mean to wax poetic it. But I do think every story like this is a reminder that life is fragile and that death often comes when we least expect it. By all accounts, Griffith was a well-liked and well-respected FA for over three decades at Hawaiian. When I go, I hope it also while doing something I love or with people whom I love.